Will Ravens be cautious with Justin Tucker because of new kickoff rules?

OWINGS MILLS — Justin Tucker is one of the Ravens’ best assets.

He has 22 game-winning or go-ahead field goals in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime, and has converted 90.2 percent of his attempts (395 of 438) since joining the team in 2012.

That’s why the Ravens might be cautious with the 34-year-old Tucker and the new kickoff rules, which could involve the kicker trying to make more tackles. The new rules resemble those in XFL where kickers were involved in about 25 percent of the tackles on kickoffs.

Tucker is ready for the challenge even if coach John Harbaugh is not keen on the idea of Tucker risking injury.

“I don’t think it’s something that’s encouraged, but it’s not discouraged either,” Tucker said about the potential for more contact during kickoffs. “It kind of just comes with the territory. It’s a football play. We’re all football players out there, and ultimately, if a returner beelining toward the end zone, and I’m the last guy there to stop him, it is part of my job description – it’s not necessarily priority A.

“Priority A is [to] make kicks, and then as far as kickoffs go, being able to put the ball wherever coaches want me to put the ball. And then, somewhere in there is [to] be ready to make the play on the ball-carrier if you have to. Maybe we will start doing some tackling drills over there in training camp. It’ll probably be really bad TV, but we’ll have fun doing it.”

In addition to being the most accurate kicker in NFL history, Tucker has made the most field goals, 395, since entering the NFL in 2012. Tucker also made the longest field goal in NFL history, converting a 66-yard, game-winning kick against at the Detroit Lions on September 26th, 2021.

This offseason, he has spent more time in the weight room and added extra muscle to get ready for the new kickoff rules.

There has been some talk of teams not using their primary kicker to do kickoffs in the new system. Harbaugh has not dismissed that idea.

“I would say that we’ve thought about everything,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just a matter of, ‘Do you have a guy that can kick it in there consistently?’ If you do, it probably is an advantage because you get an extra tackler in there, and you don’t put your kicker at risk. So, I’d say we’re looking at every aspect we can think of.”


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