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BALTIMORE – Shayne Graham calmly knocked all nine of his field goal tries through the uprights Saturday, appearing as comfortable at M&T Bank Stadium as he did when he was the Cincinnati Bengals’ kicker.
Graham connected as adeptly as he did over the years with the Bengals when he made 15 of 18 kicks in Baltimore. That includes hitting all seven tries in 2004, including the game-winner.
“I made these kicks here before, and I remember every one of those field goals,” Graham said. “You use those to build confidence, but you never take any kick for granted.
“Anytime I put my shoes on and go out on the field I’m competing with myself. I’m happy when I walk off the field with no misses. If this was a game, I wouldn’t be unhappy with it.”
Neither would Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who’s in no rush to declare a winner in the Ravens’ kicking competition.
Graham rebounded from a few rough practices, converting two 44-yard kicks. Meanwhile, incumbent Billy Cundiff hit 7 of 9 kicks Saturday as he was errant from 44 and 33 yards.
“We know it’s going to be a tough decision,” Harbaugh said. “We just kind of put it on the backburner. We don’t have to make that decision yet, so we don’t want to.”
There are scenarios where the Ravens could field trade proposals about Cundiff or Graham.
Graham is regarded as the frontrunner to win the job, but Cundiff has had a strong training camp.
“Sometimes people wait because they know we’ve got to let somebody go,” Harbaugh said. “The problem is if you’re low on the pecking order of claiming rights and you need a kicker and somebody else who needs a kicker is ahead of you, you’ve got to trade for him. So, I think that’s something that could be beneficial for us. Both of these guys are going to kick really well this year in the National Football League.”
Harbaugh foresees a tough call ahead of him and the organization at the end of the preseason.
The Ravens will measure everything to determine the winner: practice accuracy, preseason games, kickoffs and timing and chemistry with snapper Matt Katula and holder Sam Koch.
“My gut feeling is that it’s going to be a gut feeling, which is the toughest way to do it,” Harbaugh said. “You’d like to have it be black-and-white to make that kind of choice, but right now, it looks like they’re both going to kick really well. Games are going to be big, too. We’ll have to see how it goes in the games.”
For Graham, it was his first time kicking in an NFL stadium since the Bengals’ playoff loss last season to the New York Jets where he missed two kicks.
“It felt good,” Graham said. “I kicked on this field quite a few times before, but you never know what it’s going to be like. You kick in practice and do all the reps you want, but having the adrenaline, having the same target points you’re going to have in a game, it’s a nice feeling to have.
“It’s cool to be able to experience that in these colors and not be kicking against them. It’s been nice. I look forward to a lot more opportunities in the future.