The Battle Keeps Kicking

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Even though he missed a 27-yard field goal last weekend against the Carolina Panthers, Steve Hauschka is still leading the Ravens' kicking battle.

Hauschka bounced back to nail a 38-yarder, and head coach John Harbaugh pointed to the former kickoff specialist's entire body of work, not simply one game.

"I would give Steve the edge, in all honesty, based on what he's kicked through camp," Harbaugh said.

Hauschka will have one more opportunity to fight off rookie free agent Graham Gano this Thursday in Atlanta. 

If not – and Gano makes an impressive comeback after he went 1-for-3 in his first and only two preseason contests – the job could go to Gano.

Another scenario, however, is calling longtime Ravens kicker Matt Stover, who still lives in the Baltimore area and has not yet joined another team.

Stover is the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, converting 83.7 percent of his career attempts (462 of 552 field goals).  Harbaugh said that Stover could help a number of teams.

"Until someone else signs him – as long as he wants to kick – he's a factor around the league," the coach noted.

Hauschka even admitted that he played in a golf tournament with the 19-year veteran earlier this summer.

"We catch up every once in a while," Hauschka said.  "There's certain kicker talk that goes on that only we understand, so it's always good to see him."

But Hauschka has been reliable thus far, the 27-yard miss notwithstanding.  Hauschka led the ACC in field goal percentage with an 88.9 percent accuracy rate in 2007, and through three preseason games this year, he has connected on boots of 21, 37, 42 and Saturday's 38-yarder. 

Gano has seen his moments in practice and games, although he has not been as consistent. The Florida State product, who won the 2008 Lou Groza Award as college football's best kicker, hit from 39 yards but was off from 28 and 46 yards.

The Ravens believe they have two kickers that will be on an NFL roster this year, even if it isn't with Baltimore.

"We think both of those guys are going to be starting kickers in the NFL sooner rather than later," Harbaugh said.  "I would say right now we're hopeful that one of those guys is the guy. But we're going to see how this week plays out. I think Steve will have the edge again this week going in, based on what he's done all through camp. We'll see what happens."

Gano remained stoic about his chances when asked about the preseason finale before Monday's practice.

"I just have to have another good week of practice and see how it goes," he said.  "There's no tension at all.  I don't get too nervous or excited about anything.  I'm pretty level." 

Gano was scheduled to kick in the fourth quarter in Charlotte, but the Ravens did not post any points after Hauschka nailed his field goal in the third.

"It's just how it worked out," Gano explained.  "The plan was to get me in there, but I didn't get any opportunities."

As for Hauschka, he regarded his miss as a positive – at least in the preseason.

"It's probably good for the season to respond from that kick and move on with my job," stated Hauschka.  "My job is to forget about that and make the next kick.  Obviously, you never want to miss a kick, but I'm human. 

"If I miss a kick during the season, it prepared me for that."

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