Baltimore gives the boot to struggling kicker Hauschka

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday cut kicker Steve Hauschka, who missed a 36-yard field goal and had a conversion blocked in Monday night's 16-0 win over Cleveland.

No replacement was immediately chosen. Former New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent and former Dallas Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff worked out for the Ravens last week.

As a rookie last year, Hauschka handled kickoffs as the backup to 40-year-old Matt Stover. Coach John Harbaugh decided against inviting Stover to camp this summer because he was tired of having two kickers on the roster.

But after winning the job from Graham Gano in training camp, Hauschka didn't come close to being as a consistent as Stover, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. Hauschka missed four field goals in nine games, including a potential winning 44-yarder against Minnesota and 38-yarder in Cincinnati that would have gotten Baltimore within a touchdown with six minutes left.

The clincher came Monday, when Hauschka's 36-yard try sailed wide left at the end of a 12-play drive in a scoreless game.

"We entered the season knowing that we would have to go through some growing pains with Steve," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "That happens with most new kickers in the NFL. But, for where we are as a team today, we need more consistent production from our kicker."

Baltimore (5-4) lost four of five before beating Cleveland. The Ravens will next face the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts, who have Stover as their kicker.

Stover, who signed with the Colts on Oct. 14, is 6 for 6 on field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.

Sunday's game against Indianapolis is the beginning of a three-week stretch that includes a home game against AFC North rival Pittsburgh and a trip to Green Bay.

"While we do believe Steve will kick successfully in the league eventually, we need better right now," Newsome said. "The string of important games coming up that are likely to be close, tough battles and his lack of production are reasons we needed to make this move now."

Newsome expected to sign a new kicker before Wednesday's practice.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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