Stover doesn't mind a little backup

The Baltimore Sun

Little has changed for Matt Stover.

Despite the Ravens' plan to have Steve Hauschka attempt field goals outside of Stover's range and handle kickoffs, Stover is still the team's primary kicker for field goals. It's a situation the 19-year veteran is comfortable with.

"I've had the same arrangement for a lot of years with Wade Richey, with J. R. Jenkins, and I think even Aaron Elling came in and kicked for a few games," Stover, 40, said. "It's fine. ... Overall, it's a good situation for me. It helps my leg, and Steve does a good job on kickoffs. If they want to continue to do that, that's fine."

The third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, Stover missed three of seven field-goals tries in first four games this season, and all three were from beyond 40 yards. Since then, however, Stover has converted 13 of 15 attempts, going 4-for-5 from beyond 40 yards.

Hauschka, 23, has made one of two field-goal tries, drilling a 54-yarder against the Houston Texans on Nov. 9 and falling short with a 53-yarder against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 23.

A competitor 17 years younger might rattle some veterans, but Stover, whose contract runs out at season's end, said his priority is cementing his value to his teammates and coaches - beginning with Sunday night's game against the Washington Redskins.

"My big thing is to make sure that I perform and that I perform well," he said. "I'll let the contract, I'll let what they're doing with Steve and all of that stuff take care of itself. I know if I perform not only for myself but mainly for the team and give us the best opportunity to win - and I feel like that's what they still have faith in me to do, that when it comes down to it, they want me kicking the ball - then that's what I'm going to be paid to do."

Injury report

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder) and running back Willis McGahee (illness) joined safety Ed Reed (hamstring), cornerback Samari Rolle (thigh) and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (shoulder) as players who did not practice yesterday. Mason and McGahee were present during the early portion of practice, but both went into the locker room during special teams.

Reed, Rolle and Gaither - all of whom did not practice Wednesday - were dressed in sweats and limited to individual drills along the sidelines.

Cornerback Fabian Washington (shoulder) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday's session, but he was limited. Linebacker Bart Scott (shoulder) and rookie guard David Hale (ankle) were limited for the second consecutive day.

Linebacker Nick Greisen (back) and wide receiver Marcus Maxwell (hip) fully participated.

Seven Washington starters - linebackers London Fletcher (foot) and Marcus Washington (ankle), defensive end Andre Carter (foot), defensive tackle Kedric Golston (ankle), running back Clinton Portis (knee, back), offensive tackle Chris Samuels (knee) and cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) - did not practice for the second straight day.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder/abdomen) was limited after missing Wednesday's practice. Guards Pete Kendall (knee) and Randy Thomas (neck) were upgraded to full participation.

He's still got it

Ravens offensive tackle Willie Anderson has faced Jason Taylor sporadically, but he might get an extensive look at the Redskins defensive end, who usually lines up opposite the right tackle.

Taylor has the most career sacks among active players with 118, but he has recorded just one this season. Anderson, however, said Taylor is still dangerous.

"People shouldn't get fooled or lulled to sleep," Anderson said. "Jason brings it. Jason brings speed, size. He has a decent bull rush, but the main thing is he has different moves and that he can counter you with things. The great pass rushers are guys that counter you with different things, and Jason is one of those traditional great rushers."

Pro Bowl voting

Brendon Ayanbadejo has moved up the ranks in Pro Bowl voting among special team players in the AFC. Ayanbadejo, who was fourth last week, is now second with 67,228 votes, and he is 10,619 votes behind leader Anthony Madison of the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to the latest results.

Inside linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Reed and fullback Le'Ron McClain have widened their leads in their positions. Lewis leads the Pittsburgh Steelers' James Farrior by 81,630 votes, Reed owns a gap of 122,324 over the Tennessee Titans' Michael Griffin, and McClain has a 20,621-vote lead on the New York Jets' Tony Richardson.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is still fourth, trailing leader Joey Porter of the Miami Dolphins by 80,107 votes.

Fan votes make up a third of final Pro Bowl results. Players' votes count for a third, and coaches' votes count for the final third. Polls for fans are open until Tuesday, and players and coaches will vote Thursday and next Friday. Fans can go to nfl.com/probowl to vote.

End zone

Linebacker Ray Lewis joked about his collision with Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Sunday. "I asked him, was he trying to hit a child? Did he understand that this was a man's game?" Lewis said, drawing laughs from a group of reporters. "I'm always going full speed. Most people you catch like that, they're going to kind of throttle it down and things like that. That's no discredit to him. He tried it, but he got the wrong end of it. T.J.'s a good guy, and I just love his effort." ... Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said he may shelve the option of Haloti Ngata on a tackle-eligible play when the offense is near the goal line for a few weeks. "You can overdo that stuff for a little bit," Cameron said. "We were short [offensive] tackles there for a couple of games, so he can go in there and play tackle. Looks like we'll have all of our tackles this week, so that varies from week to week." ... After undergoing surgery in October to repair the medial and posterior collateral ligaments in his right knee, guard Marshal Yanda will undergo another procedure next week to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament, which could keep him out until August. "That's what we're shooting for, training camp," Yanda said. "I'll definitely be doing some offseason stuff, light work. But to the point where I'm jumping in and be where I was last year, hopefully August." ... Rookie wide receiver Marcus Smith got his first taste of NFL action against the Bengals in the three-receiver sets. "I just felt relieved and excited that I was able to go out there and hit somebody and run around," Smith said. "That was the first game I was actually active and actually played. I was just happy to be out there helping the team win."

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