Shayne Graham understands the situation.
If Billy Cundiff is healthy and the Ravens feel that he can perform on gamedays, the team will go with Cundiff as their kicker. The guy has been with them for over two years, made the Pro Bowl last season and can still crush kickoffs deep into the end zone.
But if Cundiff isn’t ready to kick on Saturday or down the stretch because of a left calf injury or because he continues to struggle, the Ravens will turn to Graham, the 11-year veteran who they signed today.
“I really don’t know what the expectations are,” Graham said today following his first practice with the Ravens. “I hope (Cundiff) gets healthy as soon as he can. All I can control is what I’m asked to do. If I’m asked to go out and play, then I go out and play and play my best to help these guys win. If it’s for one week, it’s for one week. If it’s for two, it’s two. If it takes more or less, that’s really out of my hands. All I can do is line up and kick when they ask me to.”
Back in 2005, Graham was a Pro Bowler with the Bengals after connecting on 28-of-32 field goals. In 2007, he made 31-of-34 attempts, giving him the highest field goal percentage that season of any kicker with over 25 attempts.
Since leaving Cincinnati following the 2009 season, however, Graham has failed to catch on anywhere for the long-term. He’s been a part of six organizations in the last two years, and hasn’t attempted a kick longer than 41 yards since that 2009 campaign.
Now he’s back in Baltimore, marking his second stint with the Ravens after losing the kicking battle with Cundiff last training camp.
“I’m not going to say it’s the optimum place to be, but I really can’t complain,” Graham said. “How many people would love to have this job for one game? I’m not going to complain one bit about having a week-to-week deal right now. Of course, I would love to be long-term, but it is what it is. I take the opportunities when they come.”
This opportunity might not last that long, but while Graham is here, the Ravens will count on him just as heavily as they did Cundiff. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg says the Ravens have faith in Graham based both on the experience they got with him during camp last year and the full body of work he’s put together over his career.
“The positive thing about bringing Shayne in is we know him and he knows us,” Rosburg said. “He’s obviously an NFL-caliber kicker. We knew that when he was here, he’s proved that since he was gone. He’s been kicking with a number of different teams. Unfortunately for Shayne, he hasn’t stuck anywhere, but that’s a real plus for us because we know we’re bringing in a guy that not only is a quality NFL kicker but has been in the NFL environment and understands playoff-caliber football at the end of the season. We expect him to come in here and add that veteran experience.”
Rosburg declined to address Cundiff’s status going forward or the team’s plans for him for this Saturday’s game against the Browns, but it appears unlikely that Cundiff will be ready to play this weekend after missing practice both yesterday and today.
Asked whether he feels confident that Cundiff will kick again before the season is over, Rosburg was noncommittal.
“I’m not the medical expert on this, but I have a lot of confidence in Billy and I have a lot of confidence in our trainers,” Rosburg said. “We’ll see what happens down the road.”