Billy Cundiff's time with Ravens could be over
Billy Cundiff has more on his mind these days than the 32-yard field goal he missed last season in the waning seconds of the AFC title game.
Cundiff arrived in Baltimore's training camp unwilling to dwell on the past.
''It's all about looking forward,'' he said.
It was a good plan, but now his future with the Ravens (No. 5 in the AP Pro32) is in doubt. Rookie Justin Tucker took all the kicks in Thursday night's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and excelled in doing so. He made field goals of 33 and 53 yards and boomed his kickoffs into the end zone.
Watching from the sideline, Cundiff was stunned and disappointed.
''I found out before this game that I wasn't going to get any reps, which shocked me,'' he said. ''I felt like I had a really good week of practice.''
Coach John Harbaugh insisted the move was made simply to give Tucker the chance to play from start to finish.
''Billy has had a great, great camp. He's done really well,'' Harbaugh said. ''I think we know Billy. Billy would have come in here and made every one of those kicks, and when we kicked it deep, he would have kicked every one into the back of the end zone. Billy has proven. Tuck has not proven. This is something that he needed. We needed to see if he could handle a whole game from beginning to end and have that pressure on him, and obviously he handled it very well.''
Tucker, who played at Texas, is 5 for 5 on field goal tries during the preseason, including two of at least 50 yards. Cundiff was 1 for 6 from 50 yards and beyond last year.
''I feel like I'm kicking the best I ever kicked,'' Tucker said, attributing his success to lessons received from special teams coach Jerry Rosburg, Harbaugh and kicking consultant Randy Brown.
''Took a little work, took a couple of days, and now I feel like I'm striking the ball as confidently as I ever have,'' Tucker said.
Cundiff has been solid in practice and has made both his field goal tries during the preseason. He feels no need to defend his entire body of work, including his final kick of the 2011 season.
''Let's be honest, I feel like I've been through enough,'' he said. ''There's not a single thing that I think somebody can trap me that I'm not prepared for. So, I know my confidence has been high, I know when I came into training camp a lot of people asked me where my head was at and kind of questioned whether I'd be able to even kick. Whatever the case may be, I felt like I proved continually throughout training camp that I came in prepared. And regardless of what's thrown at me, what the situation is, I feel like I'm ready to kick.''
Cundiff has NFL experience and Ravens history on his side. After Baltimore opted not to re-sign veteran kicker Matt Stover in 2009, Harbaugh handed the job to untested Steven Hauschka, who missed four of 13 field goal attempts in nine games before being released. He was replaced by none other than Billy Cundiff.
Cundiff went 12 for 17 the rest of the way. He turned in a Pro Bowl-worthy performance in 2010, scoring 117 points, making all 39 conversion tries and missing only three of 29 field goal tries.
Then came last season. His trouble from long range aside, Cundiff scored 122 points and was 7 for 9 from 40-49 yards.
Whether he gets a chance to improve upon those numbers with Baltimore is uncertain.
''It'll just play itself out,'' he said.
Harbaugh was noncommittal.
''We have to make some decisions here again next week,'' he said. ''So, we'll just have to see how that goes.''