Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik is exactly where he wants to be, even though he knows he might not be there for long (2023)

Being an NFL kicker can be a lonely existence. They often practice on a field away from the rest of their teammates. Their daily schedule and routine are different, and in many NFL cities, although certainly not in Baltimore, kickers are often seen but rarely heard.

Just imagine then how being a kicker who is not allowed to practice with the team, or dress for games or travel on road trips would challenge the psyche. Just imagine being on the cusp of an NFL career and then suddenly knowing your rookie season is over before it even began. And imagine having a whole lot of free time on your hands to ponder what could have been.


That was Kaare Vedvik’s reality last year. After a strong preseason with the Ravens as Justin Tucker’s understudy, Vedvik was in line to be traded to a kicker-needy team ahead of the 2018 regular season. But on the eve of roster cutdown day throughout the NFL, the Norwegian kicker was assaulted in East Baltimore and found in the wee hours, bloodied and beaten, in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

He sustained head and facial injuries which necessitated a hospital stay. The Ravens put him on the non-football injury list, effectively ending his season. With nothing else to do but focus on healing, both mentally and physically, Vedvik took to writing in his diary. He kept a list of goals that he consulted and edited regularly. He didn’t disclose what they were, but one of them surely was achieved Thursday night.

“It’s something that I’ve always done for fun, but this time, it had deeper importance to it,” said Vedvik after converting all four of his field-goal attempts and two extra-point tries, and booming two 50-plus yard punts in the Ravens’ 29-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. “I had to prove something to myself tonight. That made me very emotional in a way. It was a good feeling, a very good feeling.”

Even in the preseason, it isn’t often that one of the top storylines to emerge from the game is a No. 2 kicker, especially when the No. 1 is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, and has such an intriguing and charismatic personality that HBO will feature Justin Tucker on an upcoming episode of “Real Sports.” But there was Vedvik, standing tall in front of his locker as he was surrounded by a group of reporters about 45 minutes after the game had ended.

Vedvik made field goals of 55, 45, 26 and 29 yards and he had punts of 53 and 58 yards. As impressive as the performance was, it did not move Vedvik any closer to the Ravens’ regular-season roster. In fact, barring an injury to Tucker or punter Sam Koch, also one of the league’s best at his position in addition to being Tucker’s sure-handed holder, Vedvik has virtually no chance of making the Ravens.


The Ravens have made no effort to hide their intentions to showcase the 25-year-old former soccer player as much as possible this preseason in hopes that he’ll kick well so they can trade him. Thursday’s performance was a significant step toward their goal, yet coach John Harbaugh focused more on what it meant for Vedvik, given what he’s been through.

“So happy for him (but) not surprised,” Harbaugh said. “He was so confident. He was really confident before the game when I talked to him. He believed he was going to make them all, and he did it. Hats off to him.”

While Vedvik was putting together an impressive night, there were reminders in other NFL cities about the precarious standing of certain kickers. New York Jets veteran kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two extra points in a loss to the New York Giants. Greg Joseph and Austin Seibert, competing for the Cleveland Browns kicking job, had uneventful nights in a victory over the Washington Redskins, but they haven’t exactly inspired a ton of confidence during training camp.

The kicker position has been an obsession in Chicago after Cody Parkey’s 43-yard miss prevented the Bears from beating the Philadelphia Eagles and moving on in the NFC playoffs. The Bears have been looking at kickers all offseason and they’ve settled on a camp kicking competition between Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry. Both have reportedly performed well in training camp, but Pineiro missed from 48 yards in Thursday’s loss to the Panthers and Fry converted his only field-goal try from 43.

Vedvik, a foreign exchange student when he arrived in Kansas as a high school junior, is suddenly viewed as a hot commodity among fan bases desperate to solidify their shaky kicking situation.

“I don’t really ever think about that,” Vedvik said. “I’m focused on playing the game, that’s it. I want to have fun. If teams are interested, then they talk to coach, (the) head honcho, and they make that happen. I’m just going to play the game.”


Vedvik struggled somewhat in the Ravens’ various offseason practices but he’s been much sharper as training camp has progressed. However, as he got ready for Thursday’s game, he found himself confronting a feeling that he’s never experienced before, not when he was a kicker and punter at Marshall, and not even in his first NFL preseason last year, when he made eight of his nine field-goal attempts.

“Usually, for the game, I have a certain mindset when it’s game time. It’s time to go, you have fun. It’s like excitement,” Vedvik said. “This time, I didn’t know. Am I supposed to be excited in a happy way? Excited in a serious way? Excited in what type of way? I was just like going a little bit of everywhere.”

Vedvik said he spoke with Ravens’ team chaplain, Johnny Shelton, about 30 minutes before kickoff, and Shelton’s words “locked” him in. It was Shelton and Ravens team clinician Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, along with Vedvik’s host family, who helped the kicker move past the incident last August that left him physically and mentally scarred.

Details of the incident remain elusive, and no arrests were made. Vedvik, who had been out with a few teammates in the popular Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, told police that he didn’t remember what happened after he separated from his teammates and stayed out with a “couple of ladies,” according to the police report. He was found at nearly 4 a.m. a couple of miles away when police responded to reports of an injured person. Vedvik had head and facial injuries. His wallet and keys were also missing.

“At first, it seemed kind of surreal,” Vedvik said. “One thing is hearing stories like that, but when it happens to yourself, it takes some time for it to really sink in. It eventually did, and I kind of just had to face it. Whatever happened, happened. As a person, I’ve got to grow from it. I’ve got to learn from it, and hopefully become a better person from it. Take your lessons, man. You want to have a smart head on your shoulder and keep the people close to you, close to you.”

Vedvik said Thursday it took him a month and a half to recover physically from the injuries sustained in the assault. Once he was cleared, he started to do some running and other conditioning. Eventually, he resumed kicking, working out once or twice a week, often with former Maryland and current UCLA punter Wade Lees.

Knowing “it was going to be a long year,” Vedvik felt it was prudent to put his goals on paper.


“I figured at a moment like that, where you’re used to being a college student and having a very structured schedule around you all the time, you’re told what to do from morning to evening, and all of a sudden your day is over at 10 a.m. It’s important to find out what your objectives are and truly follow those and be disciplined with yourself,” he said. “That was a year for me to truly focus on self-discipline, keeping promises to myself, what am I going to do to get back here. This is where I belong. That’s my dream, it’s my goal. Anything that didn’t fit into the objectives I wrote down to go towards my dreams and my goals and everything, it wasn’t going to belong in my life.”

While Vedvik hasn’t said it publicly, he surely knows that, barring an unforeseen development, his kicking future isn’t in Baltimore. However, as he prepares for a potential front-line kicking job elsewhere, Baltimore is probably the ideal place for him to do it.

The Ravens have developed a reputation of being a “kicking factory” under Harbaugh, former special teams coach Jerry Rosburg, who recently retired; and assistant special teams coach and kicking specialist Randy Brown. The former mayor of Evesham Township in South Jersey, Brown has been especially instrumental in the development of Tucker, who like Vedvik, was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

Four of the top 10 most accurate kickers in NFL history were with the Ravens at some point in their careers. That includes Robbie Gould, Graham Gano, Stephen Hauschka and Wil Lutz.

It’s a reputation the Ravens take very seriously. Tucker, Koch and long-snapper Morgan Cox have their roles in it by helping to tutor the specialists the Ravens bring to training camp every summer. Vedvik is the latest to benefit.

“The attention to detail they all have, yeah, it’s unparalleled,” Vedvik said, calling his teammates and coaches the “specialist encyclopedias.”

“They always share parts of their mindset with me. They are, in my opinion, the best at what they do — all of them. Every day, they encourage me, they tell me how much people care about you. They help me on the field with technique. They try and share all the knowledge that they got. They want to see me succeed. I’m super grateful for having them and being in the same room as them. I don’t think I could have been with any better organization than this one right now, and with those guys.”

(Photo: Tommy Gilligan / USA Today)

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