John Harbaugh offered a cryptic comment about Steve Hauschka when I asked him about the place kicker during today’s press conference.
Maybe it was a just a slip up on John’s part. It might have been done to throw us all off the trail.
Harbaugh: “We’re not ready to make any announcement about a kicker.”
If the Ravens were DEFINITELY NOT bringing someone in this week, Harbs would have simply said, “We’re going with Steve right now. End of discussion.”
John likes to be emphatic when the occasion calls for it.
He wasn’t emphatic about it today.
“We’re not ready to make an announcement” could be his way of honoring Ozzie Newsome’s request to “not say anything to the media until I get a deal done.”
I don’t think Harbaugh and his staff are entertaining thoughts of “playing mental games” with Hauschka at this stage of the season. It wouldn’t serve much of a purpose to float out a loose, cryptic remark about a place kicker. Hauschka needs MORE confidence at this point, not less. Talking openly about bringing in a kicker — or hinting at it, even — wouldn’t accomplish much.
Who would the Ravens bring in?
Well, a couple of weeks back when Hauschka was bothered by an ankle injury, they had veteran Mike Nugent in for a look-see. There ARE veteran kickers out there without jobs. Nugent would be the best of the bunch, I’d say. And he wasn’t very good in Tampa Bay this year, connecting on only 2 of 6 attempts (2 blocked) before getting the axe on October 5.
Anyway, I contacted two of my Ravens sources in mid-afternoon today to try and get some tidbits of info from them and neither would respond on the kicker situation. That tells me something might be up as well.
Nugent didn’t have a lot of leverage a couple of weeks ago. He was a man without a team. Now, he’s still a man without a team but the club calling him (Baltimore, maybe?) doesn’t have much leverage either.
The Ravens could, of course, wait out the Matt Stover temporary-stay in Indianapolis and offer Stover a contract when Adam Vinatieri returns shortly. I don’t see the Ravens doing that, though. I think the Matt Stover-in-Baltimore-ship has left the port.
I know John Harbaugh diffused the situation today by saying, “We’re not ready to say that Steve Hauschka can’t be successful in the NFL.”
That’s not the same thing as saying, “Steve Hauschka is our place kicker. Next question please.”
John’s usually emphatic on subjects like this one.
Today, he threw out the line and let the bait wiggle in the water a little bit.
I took the hook.
It’s just a hunch, but I think the Ravens are setting the stage for a new place kicker this week.