If he was unable to kick for the Ravens any longer, Matt Stover wanted the chance to kick for a Super Bowl contender. He got his wish Wednesday when his resume and the Indianapolis Colts' need matched up nicely.
"That's why I've been so patient," Stover said after his introductory news conference in Indianapolis. "I made all these decisions in the offseason to give myself options. It wasn't about money; it was about the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl."
The former Ravens kicker signed a guaranteed one-year contract with the Colts after acing a Tuesday workout in which he hit a pair of 53-yard field-goal attempts.
Stover, 41, replaces Adam Vinatieri, 36, who hurt his right knee in the summer and played five games with the injury. Vinatieri had surgery Tuesday and will miss four to eight weeks. Because the Colts have their bye this week, Stover returned home to Baltimore on Wednesday night and will report to the Colts on Monday for his 20th NFL season.
The Colts are 5-0 and have made the playoffs the past seven seasons. To make room on the roster, they cut starting defensive tackle Ed Johnson for the second time in 13 months.
The Colts told Stover that if he kicks well, they won't necessarily go back to Vinatieri this season, another lure for Stover. It's conceivable he will arrive at M&T Bank Stadium with the Colts on Nov. 22 for what could be a big AFC matchup.
He is mindful of the history the Colts have in Baltimore and the fans' feelings about the team.
"All I hope is, if I'm still on the team, that fans there will embrace it and understand what this is about," Stover said. "I am very sensitive to the Baltimore community. I was part of a team [the Cleveland Browns] that moved out. I am part of the community, and I will stay in Baltimore. My heart's still in the community."
The Ravens declined to renew Stover's contract in the offseason to save a roster spot. Steve Hauschka, who handled kickoffs for the Ravens in 2008, won the kicking job in training camp.
Stover's former Ravens teammates were happy to learn of his continued employment.
"Stover is a first-class act going to a first-class program," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Bottom line, he's a great guy that still has years left to kick. He has [had] great success, continued success. I always commend people like that. He's a hell of a football player to play with."
Long snapper Matt Katula, one of Stover's closest friends on the team, spoke with Stover on Wednesday morning.
"We're happy for him," Katula said. "He's in a dome, with FieldTurf. ... He's excited. That's why he stayed in shape."
The Colts play six of their last 11 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, with trips to St. Louis (Oct. 25) and Houston (Nov. 29), both of which have domes.
Stover has kicked 462 career field goals, third most in league history, and scored 1,944 points over 18 active seasons. His success rate of 83.7 percent ranks in the league's top five. He holds the NFL record with field goals in 38 straight games.
Originally a 12th-round draft pick by the New York Giants, Stover spent his rookie season on injured reserve. Under different rules, he was eligible to come off IR after four weeks, but the Giants signed Matt Bahr and Bahr never relinquished the job. Stover signed with the Browns the next season as a Plan B free agent.
Now the roles have been reversed.
"I am playing because I still feel I can be competitive and can help a team win the Super Bowl," Stover said.