Bears bound? Ravens' Kaare Vedvik kicks up trade value another notch

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik connected on four field goals, including a 55-yarder, in Thursday's preseason opener, which should increase his chances of landing an NFL job.

Not in Baltimore, of course. The Ravens have Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in league history.

Vedvick is playing for the Ravens, but he's auditioning for the other 31 teams in the NFL. Baltimore is hoping to trade Vedvik for a draft pick, if he continues to show promise in the remainder of the preseason.

"I don’t really ever think about that," Vedvik said when asked about the speculation that another team will acquire him. "I’m focused on playing the game. That’s it. Teams that are interested, they talk to coach, the head honcho. I’m just going to play the game."

The Chicago Bears have been linked to Vedvik, and for good reason. Unproven kickers Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry are battling for the Bears job, which became open after Cody Parkey’s infamous double doink in the playoffs.

The Arizona Cardinals could be another interested team with Zane Gonzalez struggling in training camp, and the New York Jets might inquire after Chandler Catanzaro missed a couple of extra points in the first preseason game.

The Ravens have a history of being a special-teams pipeline. Three current kickers -- New Orleans' Wil Lutz, Carolina's Graham Gano and Buffalo's Stephen Hauschka -- all got their starts in Baltimore. Former special-teams coach Jerry Rosburg, who retired in June, had an eye for discovering kickers, and assistant Randy Brown has an expertise for developing talent.

"I fully expect that he’ll kick well enough for us to trade him," coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings in March. "That’s kind of the goal. He’s capable of kicking in the NFL. We probably could have traded him last year."

Vedvik was one of the bigger surprises of last year's training camp. Booming kicks with an effortless style, he was 8 of 9 (89%) on field goals during the preseason after being signed as an undrafted rookie. He hit a 56-yarder in the finale, which seemed to put the finishing touches on his exit from Baltimore.

But Vedvik was assaulted in East Baltimore before the Ravens could deal him to another team. He was hospitalized last September after being found alone with multiple facial injuries. Vedvik, who had originally gone out with teammates that night, told the Ravens that he didn't remember how he ended up at the location where he was found.

Baltimore placed Vedvik on the Non-Football Injury list, which began his yearlong comeback. He started slowly, kicking once a week before ramping up his workouts.

Vedvik wrote down his goals in a journal.

"I figured at a moment like that, it’s important to find out what your objectives are and truly follow those and be disciplined with yourself," he said. "This is where I belong. That’s my dream. That’s my goal. And anything that didn’t fit in the objectives I wrote down, it wasn’t going to belong in my life."

After what appeared to be an up-and-down offseason this spring, Vedvik has gotten on track this summer. He has converted 90% of his kicks in this year's training camp, but there was a bigger challenge for him.

Thursday's 29-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars marked Vedvik's first game since that assault. He was perfect on field goals, hitting from 55, 45, 26 and 29 yards. Vedvik had punts of 58 and 53 yards, too.

"It was a different emotional load to it, given everything that happened," Vedvik said. "It was something I’ve always done for fun, but this time it had deeper importance to it. I had to prove something to myself."

A native of Norway, Vedvik had a soccer background before coming to the United States. He kicked and punted at Marshall, where he was named first-team All-Conference USA. He then joined the Ravens, learning from two Pro Bowl specialists.

Vedvik called Tucker and punter Sam Koch "the specialists encyclopedia." He also leaned on them during his most trying times this past year.

"The support here at the Ravens has been amazing," Vedvik said. "They only want the best for me, and they’ve done everything in their power to get me back to where I belong. This is where I belong. I feel it.”