Shayne Graham popped out of The Castle after rookie minicamp ended today, and walked to the podium to greet the Baltimore media for the first time.
Hours after finalizing a one-year contract with the Ravens, Graham spoke to reporters in a Virginia twang and with a smile on his face, clearly pleased to have free agency behind him.
"This is just a great fit for me," Graham said. "I've been excited about it all day and once we got everything taken care of, so it felt nice."
The Ravens have been in contact with Graham since the owners meetings a few months ago, but according to head coach John Harbaugh, the two sides didn't really get into heavy contract negotiations until yesterday.
Graham said that he had an opportunity to return to the Bengals, who he had played with for the last seven years, and he had discussions with a few other teams as well, but that he felt the Ravens were the best fit.
"There's never any certainty, but I always kind of felt comfortable with the situation that I thought I could be in [in Baltimore]," Graham said. "There was no certainty to it, but that thought was definitely in the back of my head that I thought it could happen."
As the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, Graham will be the favorite to win the Ravens' kicking job, but he will need to beat out Billy Cundiff to lock up the gig. Cundiff has been with the Ravens since November of last year, and the coaches have been pleased with the progress that he's made while working at team headquarters this offseason.
"I've been in a lot of situations where I've had to compete for a job in camp...and really I wouldn't expect anything else," Graham said. "That's what the NFL is; nothing is guaranteed for anyone, nothing is free.
"I think we both expect to walk in and win the job. That's what we both want to do, and at the end of it, we'll see what happens. I think we're both looking forward to the challenge of it."
It's been a while since Graham has truly needed to battle for a job (he was the Bengals' franchise player last year and has been one of the top kickers in the league for the last handful of seasons), but the nine-year veteran actually seems to relish the fact that Cundiff will be pushing him for the gig this summer.
"Sometimes in order to keep a knife sharp, you have to grind it up a little bit," Graham said. "I think that will be better for both of us in the long run."
The knock on Graham this offseason was the two kicks that he missed in the Bengals' playoff loss to the Jets last season.
While Graham might still have those kicks in the back of his mind, he says he doesn't feel a need to redeem himself going forward.
"I don't think I would put so much pressure on it to have to prove anything, but that is motivation for myself that I know I'm better than that," he said. "Even the best have bad days, and that's what I feel has made me better over my career is when I've had things not go my way, I've never folded and walked away from it.
"It's all those times that you feel like things are hard that you appreciate what you have a little more and you want to fight for it a little harder. I think that's something that will give me a little bit of an edge when I come into camp is to feel like I'm not proving anything, but I'm fighting for something and I'm hungry."