OWINGS MILLS – One year after the Baltimore Ravens cut Shayne Graham when he lost a kicking competition in training camp, he was signed Wednesday as an injury replacement for struggling Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff.
Graham is slated to handle kicking duties Saturday against the Cleveland Browns with Cundiff’s injured left calf being rested. The situation will be reevaluated next week.
Cundiff flubbed a 36-yard chip shot field goal during the Ravens’ 34-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers and has missed three of his five kicks in December. A Pro Bowl selection last season, Cundiff has missed nine field goals with all but one of those errant kicks sailing wide right.
Cundiff has only made 1 of 6 field goals from beyond 50 yards, and all of his misses have been on the road.
So, the Ravens signed Graham after having him on standby following a workout two weeks ago.
“The positive thing about bringing Shayne is that we know him and he knows us,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “He’s obviously an NFL caliber kicker. We knew that when he was here. He’s proven that since he’s been gone. Unfortunately for Shayne, he hasn’t stuck anywhere.
“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.”
Graham, 34, was an injury replacement for two games for Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter this season.
During that time, Graham made 4 of 5 field goals and all six extra points.
Graham has hit 212 of 247 (85.8 percent) career field goal attempts during his career.
“It’s nice to actually come into this locker room,” Graham said. “A lot of these guys were in camp when I was here a couple of years ago. A lot of the guys are familiar with me. There’s a lot of good guys here.
“So, it’s a real smooth transition for me. Having the operation here, the snapper and holder, those guys are phenomenal. So, I couldn’t ask to be in a better position or be around a better bunch of guys."
Graham has also kicked for the New York Giants, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills. He originally signed with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent in 2000.
Graham isn’t sure how long he’ll be on the roster, but says he kicked accurately during his tryout and in practice Wednesday.
“If they call on me, I’ll be ready,” Graham said. “I really don’t know what the expectations are. I hope Billy 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.”
For now, Cundiff remains on the active roster and the Ravens are still holding out hope that he’ll be able to kick for them again this season.
The Ravens created a roster spot for Graham by placing rookie linebacker Chavis Williams on injured reserve with a foot injury.
“We added him to our roster just to make sure we have a kicker,” Rosburg said. “We are going to continue to go through the week, like we always do and make a decision on Sunday.”
The Ravens signed Cundiff to a five-year, $15 million contract during the offseason.
When does Graham’s presence mean for Cundiff’s future?
“Fans, I’m sure, will think whatever they want,” Rosburg said. “It’s up to them to make their own decisions. We are just trying to win a football game this weekend. I’m not the medical expert on this, but I have a lot of confidence in Billy. I have a lot of confidence in our trainers. We will see what happens down the road.”
Graham said he’s been alternating his time between training in Scottsdale, Ariz., and back at Virginia Tech, where he attended college.
Utilized as an injury replacement last season for the Giants and the Patriots, the former Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl kicker has grown accustomed to filling in whenever he’s called upon.
“I’m not going to say it’s the optimum place to be, but I really can’t complain,” Cundiff 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. When you get a call, you’ve got a backpack in the back of your car and you go.
“There’s a great scene in the movie, Hoosiers, where the coach takes the team out on the court and measures the rim and says it’s the exact same dimension here as it is everywhere else. That’s the one constant I have is the goalpost and the field everything is going to be the same it’s a matter of me executing my job. “