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Summer internship with Ravens proves huge for Saints kicker Wil Lutz

Wil Lutz will kick Sunday for the Saints against Oakland. AP Photo

METAIRIE, La. -- The Baltimore Ravens didn’t really have a kicker vacancy this summer -- not with Justin Tucker firmly entrenched there as one of the NFL’s best.

But the Ravens sold undrafted rookie Wil Lutz on coming there, because they promised to make him better and get him ready for an opportunity elsewhere.

They were right.

Lutz will kick for the New Orleans Saints in Sunday’s opener against the Oakland Raiders after coach Sean Payton said he had "probably the best kicking workout I’ve ever seen" on Monday.

"This is one of the stories that, in my view, makes America great," Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "You get a young lad that really no one knew about, he gets an opportunity and makes the most of it, and he is kicking in the National Football League on Sunday. We are all really happy for him and really proud of him."

Lutz said when he went to Baltimore, "Their pitch to me was, 'If you’re not our guy, you’re gonna be someone else’s guy.'"

"So I trusted 'em, I did everything they taught me to do. And with their line of kickers that have come through there, you’ve got (Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven) Hauschka, (Carolina Panthers kicker Graham) Gano ... it was a no-brainer for me," Lutz said.

Unlike his workout, Lutz’s numbers don’t jump off the page.

He made 2 of 3 field-goal attempts for the Ravens in the preseason (the miss coming from 53 yards).

And he made just 31 of 46 field goals at Georgia State -- though he was 23-of-27 from inside the 40-yard line.

His signing in New Orleans drew criticism from former NFL kicker Jay Feely on Twitter -- something Lutz is well aware of.

But there were other factors with some of those college misses that both the Saints and Ravens recognized (technique, snap-hold-kick operation, etc...). The talent was still evident, though.

"Obviously my senior year wasn’t ideal. I’m very thankful Baltimore took a chance on me. And they groomed me into such a better kicker from Day 1," Lutz said. "I got in there, they let me do my thing for the first week. As soon as that first week was over, they were on me, like 'Fix this, fix that,' and everything just clicked."

When asked if he is kicking the best he ever has in his life, Lutz said, "Without a doubt. Without a doubt."

Rosburg praised the "teamwork" the Ravens have in the organization, from kicking consultant Randy Brown to Tucker, punter Sam Koch and long snapper Morgan Cox.

"Anytime you bring another kicker in camp, you are looking for a guy that can play in the National Football League. You're not just looking for a guy that can get you through practice," Rosburg said. "Wil demonstrated those skills, in my view, in college. He has a wonderful swing fundamentally, and I think I told some of you guys, he just needed to work on a few things, and I thought we could help him.

"Wil Lutz dove right in the middle of it. He was willing to listen, he studied tape, and he worked hard and took extra days of reps, and it paid off for him."

Maybe that will give Lutz a chance to stick in New Orleans -- where so many other kickers haven’t. He is now the 11th kicker in 11 years under Payton.

ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.