No leg up in Ravens' kicking race

No clear leader between Cundiff, Graham; Stallworth revels in first steps on NFL field since 2008

August 15, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

On paper, Billy Cundiff might have taken the lead over Shayne Graham in the race to be the Ravens' primary kicker.

But that's not the way Cundiff views it.

Cundiff converted two extra points in the team's 17-12 win over the Carolina Panthers in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night, and two of his three kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Meanwhile, Graham missed one of his two field-goal attempts that night.

Still, Cundiff said he can't take solace in Thursday night's outcome.

"I guess I'm trying to avoid thinking, if that makes sense," Cundiff said after Saturday's practice at McDaniel College in Westminster. "There's a lot of things going on behind the scenes, so for me, I'm not thinking about where I stand. I'm just trying to think about what I'm going to do when I'm on the field and let the rest take care of itself."

Graham, who was unavailable for comment after practice, converted a 32-yard field goal, but he pushed a 50-yard try wide right with 1:11 left before halftime. After the game, Graham said he overcalculated the strength of a wind blowing right to left inside M&T Bank Stadium.

"It just didn't move as much as I thought it did," he said. "I thought I hit the ball well. Gave it a chance to get there, and it just didn't go the way I had planned it to."

On Saturday, Graham succeeded on attempts of 20, 35, 45, 49 and 50 yards. Cundiff knocked through field goals of 20, 35, 44 (twice) and 45 yards, but his 50-yard attempt strayed left.

Like Cundiff, coach John Harbaugh declined to handicap the competition.

"I think it's too early to say," he said. "They've both done well. I think Shayne's kick in the game was a tough one. He wants to make that kick, but it was a tough kick."

Stallworth happy to be back

Donte' Stallworth made just one catch for 26 yards against the Panthers, but that statistic paled in comparison with the wide receiver's first appearance in an NFL contest since Dec. 28, 2008.

Stallworth sat out the 2009 season while serving a one-year suspension for killing a 59-year-old pedestrian in March 2009 while driving drunk on a causeway in Miami. So returning to the field was a significant achievement.

"This is what I've been doing since I was 11 years old," Stallworth said. "It's a part of who I am, and I love playing football. So I would definitely say that it was great being out there. Just being able to get out there with the guys and be a part of a team, it felt like I was back home again."

End zone

Fullback Le'Ron McClain, whose campaign "McClain 4 RB" includes the slogan "Mo Carries, Mo Touchdowns," dropped a pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the right flat during Saturday's practice. That encouraged free safety Ken Hamlin to yell, "He didn't say, 'Mo Catches!' He said, 'Mo Carries!'" Â Rookie tight end Dennis Pitta hauled in the day's best reception when he juggled a pass from quarterback Marc Bulger but managed to hold on to the ball for a first down. Â Linebacker Prescott Burgess rocked rookie fullback Mike McLaughlin, causing a fumble that McLaughlin recovered. Burgess followed that by recording what would have been a sack of Bulger in the end zone for a safety. Â Flacco floated a deep ball that sailed over the outstretched arms of free safety Tom Zbikowski and into the hands of wide receiver Derrick Mason.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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