This might be surprising news, Justin Tucker admitted, but the Ravens kicker has been hitting the weight room during organized team activities.

It’s definitely a surprise to his teammates. By his own admission, Tucker doesn’t have a reputation as a gym rat.

“I’ve put on 3.8 pounds, can you tell?” Tucker joked.

After watching film of XFL kickoffs, which are similar to the ones debuting in the NFL this year, he noticed that kickers are involved in 20-25% of tackles on returns.

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As a guy who plays one of the most specialized positions in the game — and excels at it, too, holding the highest field goal completion percentage of all time — Tucker usually tries to avoid contact. That’s what his coaches prefer, too, considering he is the second-highest-scoring player on the team behind quarterback Lamar Jackson.

But if it means Tucker gets to be more involved in the game, then he’s for it.

Justin Tucker stands at the podium to answer questions following organized team activities held at the Ravens' Owings Mills, MD practice facility on 6/6/2024. (Eric Thompson for The Baltimore Banner)

“Hell yeah, I want to be out there,” Tucker said. “Any chance I get to be on the field, I’m living out my childhood dream.”

He’d like to think he can be the guy who “smokes” a returner, but he acknowledged the value of trying out other players who have more tackling experience as kickers (although he mentioned linebackers and safeties, punter Jordan Stout could be an option, too). The last time Tucker participated in tackling drills was probably high school, but he said it’s something that comes naturally.

“I don’t think it’s something that’s encouraged,” Tucker said about him joining in on tackling. “But it’s not discouraged either. It kind of comes with the territory. It’s a football play. We’re all football players out there. Ultimately, if a returner is beelining towards the end zone, and I’m the last guy to stop him, it is part of my job description.”

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Tucker has studied film extensively, as have the coaches, but the team has had only 11 OTAs to try it on the field. And the Ravens won’t get the chance to test it against another team until joint practices. Tucker described the play as in its “fledgling stages.”

“In all seriousness, it will be a lot of fun to see what we come up with, and then to see what other teams come up with,” Tucker said.

Rookie season locked up

When the Ravens drafted offensive lineman Andrew Voorhees in 2023, they knew he wouldn’t see the field that first season after he tore his ACL at the NFL scouting combine. But they thought he’d be a potential steal once he recovered. They drafted him in the seventh round and, once he arrived, they threw him in the weight room.

“He’s been caged in the weight room, locked the doors behind him,” coach John Harbaugh joked. “You just leave him in the weight room — send him a meal, a couple meals every now and then and a protein shake and lift another time. And there he is. You see him out there. He looks really good.”

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In reality, Vorhees was also present at practices (not as a participant) and in the film room. He absorbed as much as he could from film sessions and from veterans — especially left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who has dealt with his own injuries — so he’d be ready once he made it onto the field.

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Even with all his preparation, Vorhees said things were moving fast through his first few days of OTAs. But they’ve since slowed down, and now he’s competing in hopes of landing a starting job.

“First time I get to be a football player in quite some time,” Vorhees said. “Last time I stepped on the football field was fall of 2022, so, as you can imagine, long time coming.”

Minicamp incoming

The Ravens have one more day of OTAs, which isn’t open to the media, before they move on to mandatory minicamp from Tuesday to Thursday next week.

The numerous players who either didn’t attend OTAs, such as outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, or were there but didn’t participate, such as defensive lineman Michael Pierce, should be on the field for minicamp.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey was at some of the open OTAs, but he was a limited participant, staying away from scrimmage drills and occasionally leaving early. Harbaugh said Humphrey should be present, but they may not want him to practice at full speed. Last year Humphrey suffered a foot injury in training camp that required surgery and a calf injury late in the season.

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Outside linebacker Adisa Isaac, who pulled his hamstring at rookie minicamp, is looking good to return, as is safety Beau Brade (ankle), who was also injured at rookie minicamp.

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Outside linebacker David Ojabo, who went out with a season-ending injury in Week 3 last season, has been at most of the OTAs, but he has had limited participation. Harbaugh noted that Ojabo upped his workload Thursday.

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