After sitting out last week and not practicing at all in nearly the last three weeks because of a left calf injury, kicker Billy Cundiff will return to the practice field today.
Cundiff says his ailing calf has progressed a lot over the last week or so, and he will kick in practice this afternoon and then see how the injury responds.
"It's come a long way," Cundiff said. "Obviously, I needed the rest. I couldn't even make it through the game, so now this is just a matter of trying to progress it and see if I can make it through practice. If we can do that, then hopefully we'll be able to play on Sunday."
The key will not necessarily be how Cundiff feels while working out, but more how the calf responds to the workload over the next couple days. If the injury doesn't flare back up as the week goes on, then Cundiff plans to play in Sunday's regular season finale against the Bengals.
"I want to get out there as soon as I possibly can," Cundiff said. "That's probably what led to more of the problems is that I played when I probably shouldn't have. But hindsight's 20/20. Right now, I'm going to take it today, see how it responds, and then base all of our judgements off of that. Instead of trying to add in some forecast of what it might be, let's just kind of go off and see how it responds."
Asked to explain exactly how his injury affects his kicking, Cundiff smiled.
"Well, if it affects my walking then it's probably going to affect my kicking," he said. "This is the first stretch of about two or three days where I've had no pain walking, no tightness, all those kind of things. So this is something that's been pretty tough to deal with. I think that's why we need the rest, and now we're going to see how it responds kicking."
Meanwhile, if Cundiff does not progress as he hopes, Shayne Graham will again be ready to handle the kicking duties this weekend.
Graham, who kicked seven seasons in Cincinnati and made a Pro Bowl with the Bengals in 2005, made two field goals last week in Cundiff's stead. He admits that he would enjoy the chance to kick against the Bengals this Sunday, but knows that if Cundiff is healthy, he's the Ravens' guy.
"If I get that opportunity it would be nice to play against Cincinnati, a place I'm familiar with and in front of a lot of friends and fans that liked me and maybe some fans that didn't like me," Graham said. "Either way, it would be nice to have that opportunity and the possibility of that opportunity. If Billy is OK obviously he'll be doing his best. If it ends up being me, I look forward to it."
"You get over stuff like that quick," he added, in regards to his departure from the Bengals. "It's not the first time somebody has played against the team they played for before. I'm sure there will be some things that will make it kind of cool to play against some guys you're friends with and played with for a long time. In the grand scheme of it, you play for who you play for. You don't play for the other team. So, I'm happy to have that opportunity to do that here."