Stover's Name Surfaces

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As former Ravens kicker Matt Stover's name surfaced in the news last weekend, the current crop of kickers continued to battle in becoming his heir Monday.

Stover recently told the Baltimore Sun that he is still very much interested in reclaiming the spot he occupied for 19 seasons, dating back to the Ravens' days as the Cleveland Browns before their 1996 move.

"I would love to come back and play for the Ravens," Stover said in the *Sun *article. "It's a great organization with great people."

But while Stover holds out hope and the Ravens leave the door open to that possibility, Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano are doing their best in fending off the accomplished veteran.

What is keeping Stover's name in the running is consistency, however. Stover, 41, was not re-signed this year as an unrestricted free agent and no other team picked him up, even though he is the second most accurate kicker in NFL history.

Instead, the Ravens' two young prospects have been trying to separate themselves on a daily basis – typically to mixed reviews.

Last week, Gano connected on a 60-yard field goal that would have split the uprights from 4 more yards. On Monday, Gano seemed to spray his attempts all over the field.

Hauschka was wide right on two boots early last week, but pushed a strong performance as the practices wore on.

At this point, the two-man race seems to be neck-and-neck.

"As we watch them develop, you can see how they are both getting better," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "We've had some opportunities to work on things that during the season, you don't have a lot of time to do because you're preparing for your opponents every week.

"Now, we can go out and work with them right after practice."

That work has included tweaks to various mechanics on the field and scrutinizing film inside team headquarters.

Rosburg has been watching the competition like a hawk. The Ravens have even assigned an intern to record every single kick from both prospects, which helps him evaluate between the two and allows Hauschka and Gano to hone their skill.

"The film has been great," said Gano, the recipient of the 2008 Lou Groza Award as a senior at Florida State. "Some of my kicks had a tendency to trail left, and with the weather conditions here, they were doing that a lot more. The coaches worked with me and now that's not happening any more.

"It was more with where I'm planting and my swing plane, coming more downfield than going across the field. All that, along with some other things really helped me."

For Hauschka, keeping his head down through the kick and maintaining an open foot were the focuses.

"I think I've got all the potential in the world, but the main thing was to know that I was going to have a chance here all offseason to get better every day and then assess where we're at day one, first game of the season," he said. "That's what I was most excited about was that they have the confidence in me to give me a chance throughout the whole offseason to show them what I can do."

Some may think that the job is Hauschka's to lose after he connected on a 54-yard field goal in Houston last season, but that is not entirely the case.

Gano has looked equally impressive at times.

But to hold off a steely veteran such as Stover, who resides with his family in Baltimore, Hauschka and Gano will have to sustain their impressive performances throughout the summer.

The weight of each kick is not lost on either of them.

"I feel like I've hit the ball well, but I still have a long way to go with my consistency," Gano said. "I'm making a lot of them, but unless they look perfect every time, I'm not happy. I want them all to look the same."

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