Leading up to the Ravens first minicamp on Friday I will look at one burning question a day that I have for the 2009 season. Today I will look at the loss of Matt Stover and his potential replacements.
It looks like the Ravens have decided to move in another direction next season and end its relationship with the last holdover from Cleveland. Matt Stover at 42 simply didn’t have the leg to remain accurate from beyond 40 yards anymore; in 2008 he was 5-9 (55.6%) between 40-49 and 0-1 from beyond 50. Stover was also a liability on kickoffs as well forcing the Ravens to keep an extra kicker on the game day roster solely for kickoff duties.
Stover is without question the greatest offense threat in the history of the Ravens franchise; leading them in career scoring with 1,944 points. His 1,944 points also make him the fifth on the NFL’s all time scoring list and gives Stover the most points any player has scored for one team in NFL history.
Stover was also a solid member of the Baltimore community who made many charity appearances and was widely considered one of “the good guys”. Matt and his wife Debbie created The Matt Stover Foundation, which gives private donations to community-based charitable organizations.
While it will be weird on Sunday September 13th to see a kicker who isn’t Matt Stover lineup and kick a field goal in a Ravens uniform, the time has come. Stover forced the team to gain ten more yards than any other team in the NFL to get within field goal range; and forced the Ravens to punt the ball when they were in opponent’s territory.
The Ravens have two kickers on the roster currently that should compete in training camp for the position.
Steven Hauschka was picked up on waivers from Minnesota before last season and was primarily used as a kickoff specialist. Hauschka has a huge leg; he averaged 65.9 yards per kickoff in 2008 and had four touchbacks. Hauschka only attempted two field goals last season hitting from 54 yards in a week ten blowout against Houston and missing from 53 yards in week twelve against Philadelphia. In the preseason Hauschka hit all four of his field goal attempts.
Hauschka is a young, inexperienced kicker who has amazing range but hasn’t had the opportunity to prove he has the ability to be a dependable kicker in the NFL.
After going undrafted in this years draft the Ravens quickly signed Graham Gano to compete with Hauschka.
In his only season as a place kicker at Florida State, Gano won the Lou Groza Award as the nations top place kicker. Gano who was also Florida State’s punter, converted 24-26 of his field goal attempts including five from beyond 50 yards in his senior season. Gano also led the nation in with 2.18 kicks per game and 9.55 points per game.
Gano has a ridiculously strong leg with range well beyond 50 yards. He also has the ability to be a premier kickoff man who could really help the Ravens with field position. Gano furthermore presents great versatility as he could step in at punter if Sam Koch is injured.
I am sad to see that Matt Stover will no longer be the kicker in Baltimore but I think the time has come for an upgrade at the position. I love Hauschka’s huge leg but I am extremely excited to see what Gano brings to the table. I think Harbaugh should keep this a true open competition throughout training camp, alternating kickers and giving both an honest shot at the position.
Matt Stover you will be missed and I can not wait until I can watch you enter the Ring of Honor.