Despite seeing Matt Stover miss three field goals this season, the Ravens are confident the 19-year veteran will return to form.
Stover is the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, but misses from 47, 48 and 45 yards belie his stellar reputation.
The Ravens could have dearly used Stover's leg last weekend in a 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, where he pushed an attempt wide right just before halftime. Had Stover hit that, Baltimore would have taken the lead in a deadlocked 3-3 contest.
Stover has connected from 21, 33, 20 and 38 yards, but has had trouble with direction over 40 yards away.
There haven't been issues with length, however. In addition to field goal duties, Stover has handled all kickoffs this year, regularly booting the ball with solid distance.
"He's kicked very well in practice, and even the balls he's missed he's hit very well," said head coach John Harbaugh in his Monday press conference. "So, it's not like he's losing leg strength. Plus, you've seen the kickoffs. He's probably kicking off better than he has in a long time. So, it's not so much age as it is knocking it through the uprights.
"He just needs to go ahead and do what he always does well and knock it between the sticks. But, we've got confidence in Matt. I know he can kick, Matt knows he can kick, and I don't doubt for one second that he's going to make a ton of field goals for us."
Stover has certainly made his share of kicks for this franchise. As the last remaining member of the original Cleveland Browns that moved to Baltimore in 1996, Stover has converted 439 out of 526 career attempts, good for an 83.5 percent success rate.
Last season, he went 27-of-32, scoring 107 points to hit the century mark for the fifth straight campaign and the 11th time in his career.
Such recent production leads Harbaugh to believe Stover can continue his output despite turning 40 this year.
"I don't think that's the issue because he's got the leg strength still to do it, and he's hitting good balls," Harbaugh said. "Those balls are tracking well. It's just a matter of directing them in between the uprights, and we know he can do that.
"He's been doing that for a long time."
The Ravens have actually changed the snap-and-hold routine under new special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. The veteran coach opened holder Sam Koch's stance and is supposed to allow the ball to get set faster.
"Sometimes the factor there is that [Stover] thinks that he's moving slower than he is because the ball's down quicker, so he feels like he's got to get to the ball quicker," Harbaugh stated. "Matt's worked that out now where he's getting to the ball at the same pace, but he's actually getting a better look at the ball.
"That should help him."
With critical points needed from the kicking game, the Ravens are hoping Stover can revert back to his reliable ways.
Terry, Washington, Mason Status
Three starters were injured in the Ravens' Week 5 matchup, but Harbaugh is hopeful to have all of them when Baltimore plays the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
Right tackle Adam Terry (knee), cornerback Fabian Washington (shoulder) and wideout Derrick Mason (thumb) are the players in question.
Terry sprained his right knee in the second quarter and was taken out of the game. He was replaced by four-time Pro Bowler Willie Anderson.
"There are some issues that we're looking at," Harbaugh stated. "We think he'll be able to play next week. We're waiting for an MRI to come back and see exactly what we've got, but there's a chance he'll be able to play."
Washington also received an MRI Monday on the right shoulder he sprained in the third quarter. Frank Walker came in opposite starting cornerback Chris McAlister. The Ravens were already without Samari Rolle, who is out at least a month after getting surgery on his neck last week.
Meanwhile, Mason came away with his injury on Baltimore's final drive. He posted five catches for 38 yards and has led the Ravens in receptions in each game this season.
"Derrick Mason should be fine, but he's going to be dealing with some bumps and bruises, and he's going to have to spend a little time in treatment this week," said Harbaugh. "But, he should be fine."
Harbaugh did not comment on tight end Daniel Wilcox, who sustained a hand injury in the Titans contest.
After starting for an injured Willis McGahee in Week 1, racking up 64 yards on 22 carries, rookie Ray Rice did not have an attempt Sunday, while McGahee and Le'Ron McClain combined for 33 rushes for 115 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee. The Ravens are still looking to keep Rice in the offensive rotation, but those opportunities did not present themselves. "We want Ray Rice to be involved, but it's within the framework of winning the football game and him doing the things that he's ready to do as it corresponds to things that we think are right to win the football game," said Harbaugh. "It just didn't come up during the game. We had hoped to play Ray more in the game, and his calls just didn't come up."…For the first time all year, Baltimore was held without a sack by the Titans, while the Ravens' offensive line has now frozen out two opponents…McClain has converted five third- or fourth-and-1 scenarios, the most in the AFC.