OWINGS MILLS – Billy Cundiff or Shayne Graham lining up for field goals Sunday, that is the question for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens are contemplating whether to reinstall Cundiff as their kicker for this pivotal regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals as he recovers from a left calf injury, or stick with Graham for the second game in a row.
A decision could come down as soon as today.
“Yeah, I think so,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s an injury situation, so you always want to see how things respond. Billy did some kicking this week. We’ll just have to see where we are come Sunday.”
Cundiff practiced on a limited basis and is listed as questionable. Having missed three of five field goals this month, Cundiff was rested last week against the Cleveland Browns.
He made some progress this week.
“It felt good to practice," Cundiff said. “When you’re getting over an injury, it’s not going to be 100 percent for a while. I think it’s getting to the point where I’ll be much better than when I tried to play last time. That’s for sure.
“I have no idea. I’m not the decision-maker. So, we’ll let the decision-makers decide. I feel pretty good about where I’m at. I’m in a much better position than I’ve been in almost about a month.”
The Ravens could make a decision after their walkthrough today prior to their charter flight to Cincinnati, or take it up until shortly before kickoff.
However, Harbaugh has said he doesn’t plan to carry two kickers on the roster.
“I don’t know,” Cundiff said. “It’s kind of the mystery of the Ravens.”
After working diligently to get healthier, it would bother Cundiff if he’s not back in the lineup. He missed his last field goal attempt, a 36-yard chip shot against the San Diego Chargers.
Cundiff has no intentions of playing it safe and sitting out until the playoffs.
“I would be disappointed because I’d like to play,” Cundiff said. “It was tough for me to watch last week. I’ve been doing the most I possibly can to get ready to play. So, I hope that happens.”
Graham connected on kicks from 48 and 43 yards against the Browns and made all of his extra points.
In his second injury replacement stint this season after kicking for the Miami Dolphins in place of Dan Carpenter earlier this year, Graham said he’s prepared for whatever comes.
"I don’t really know what kind of expectations to have," Graham said. “We’ve both kicked in practice. I guess at this point it’s all up to how he feels and what their decision is. I plan on being ready if asked. I’m sure he wants to get back in.
“I’m sure they’ll figure it out. It’s not in my control anymore. So, if I do get to play, I look forward to it. If he plays, I hope he’s rested enough. I hope he does well. You guys literally know as much as I do.”
For seven years, Graham kicked for the Bengals and made one Pro Bowl.
His tenure ended when he missed a pair of field goals in a divisional round playoff loss to the New York Jets.
He’s experienced, though, at Paul Brown Stadium.
"There’s always comfort levels for having the same surroundings," Graham said. "I kicked on that field for practice and games for seven years.”
Grateful to be back on an NFL team, Graham is hopeful of contributing at least one more time as the Ravens chase a first-round bye and an AFC North division title.
“I really can’t imagine complaining about anything right now,” Graham said. “So, I hope I play, but yet I hope Billy is OK, too. I don’t want to really put a damper on any side of that because we’re both competitors. We both want to play. My job has been to come in here and play while he’s hurt.
“If he’s not 100 percent or they decide he’s not 100 percent or whatever, then I’m ready to go. If he’s ready, then I’ll cheer him on. I try not to really think of any disappointment in that situation. I’ve been fortunate that the team has trusted in me enough to bring me and rely on me. It’s been good to be in that position.”