It's a few days before Justin Tucker arrives for his first NFL training camp next week, and he's determined to be ready.
The former University of Texas kicker is slated to compete with former Pro Bowl selection Billy Cundiff for the Baltimore Ravens' kicking job.
And Tucker is confident that he's prepared for what's coming after connecting on a series of long field goals during organized team activities and minicamps.
"I feel like I'm doing everything I need to do to be ready for a great camp," Tucker said in a telephone interview from his home in Texas. "I've been working out hard. I'm definitely confident and excited and can't wait to get started. I'm glad that I got the opportunity to get comfortable with everything up there during the offseason, and now we're coming back and getting back to work and hopefully picking up where we started."
Tucker has been working out back in Texas, kicking several times per week, lifting weights and running.
Tucker made a string of 55-yard field goals during offseason practices, displaying a strong leg for special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.
He was signed to a contract after auditioning at the Ravens' rookie minicamp and impressing coach John Harbaugh, a former special teams coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I feel good about the way I hit the ball," Tucker said. "I'm learning a lot from coach Rosburg and coach Harbaugh and everyone up there. It's a great situation for me to be in. Like I said, I'm excited and feeling great about everything. It's a lot of work, but it's also going to be a lot of fun."
Harbaugh was complimentary of Tucker following a rookie minicamp, noting that the former Longhorns standout nearly converted a 60-yard try.
"He gets really good lift on the ball, very accurate," Harbaugh said of Tucker, who nearly made a 60-yard try. "He had a very good camp."
The Ravens eyed Tucker before the NFL draft as Rosburg conducted a private workout with him a few days prior to the April draft.
Tucker made 17 of 21 field goals as a senior for the Longhorns, including a 40-yard game-winner over archrival Texas A&M, after making 23 of 27 kicks as a junior.
He hit 40 of 48 career field goals.
Tucker also punted at Texas, averaging 40.3 yards per punt.
As successful as Tucker was in college, this is an entirely different league.
And he'll be vying for a position currently held by Cundiff, who misfired on a potential game-tying field goal during the final minute of the Ravens' AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots.
"I know he's a good kicker, and he's certainly done some good things," Tucker said. "I'm going to do my thing and make the most of the opportunity. I feel like my strength is clutch kicking. You have to want to be in that position where the game's on the line."
Cundiff, 32, has the edge of experience as he enters his eighth NFL season and his fourth with the Ravens.
Cundiff converted 28 of 37 field goals last season despite dealing with a calf injury and has made 200 of 201 extra points and 132 of 172 career field goals.
"I don't look at it so much like I'm competing with Billy as much as I'm competing with myself to be at my best," Tucker said. "I look forward to it, competing with a guy who's had success. You've got to be mentally strong. You have to be ready to perform in any situation.
"I'm ready for whatever's coming next. You just keep kicking, you do your best and you let the coaches make up their minds on how you're doing and who's going to be out there when the season starts."
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