Ravens Notebook Wednesday

Billy Cundiff and the Ravens' special teams looking sharp.

OWINGS MILLS – A few days after returning from Hawaii following his first Pro Bowl, Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff immediately got back to work.

"I knew this was going to be a unique offseason," Cundiff said. "I knew I was going to need to stay prepared and work out on my own."

The Ravens rewarded Cundiff with a five-year, $15 million contract after last season. After beating out Shayne Graham during the preseason, Cundiff connected on 26 of 29 field goals and tied the NFL single-season record with 40 touchbacks last year.

And Cundiff has provided the Ravens with a strong return on that investment, hitting 14 of 16 field goals this season.

His lone misses are a pair of 51-yard tries against the St. Louis Rams, and he has made his past 10 field goals since those errant kicks. During the Ravens' 29-14 victory Sunday over the Houston Texans, Cundiff booted five field goals. He converted from 43, 48, 25, 33 and 40 yards. And he also broke his franchise single-game record with seven touchbacks, sailing one into the stands at M&T Bank Stadium.

Cundiff accomplished this feat while dealing with a wicked crosswind on a few of the field goals. "I think this game was big," coach John Harbaugh said. "There was a lot of wind blowing towards our bench, so sometimes that can knock some kicks down, but Billy just banged it right through there. In the fourth quarter, we felt like those were all going to be returnable balls in that end in the second half, and we got a couple of returnable balls, but they didn't. "He kicked them, he pushed them to the right, and he moved away from the returner and out of the end zone a couple times. And then to make all five field goals, obviously, they weren't longer field goals, but they were in a tough crosswind, and we needed every one of those." Meanwhile, the Ravens are building some quality depth in the return game.

The Ravens decided to rest kick returner David Reed on Sunday after he returned from a left shoulder injury suffered in the second game of the season.

Although Reed was active, the Ravens had new cornerback Bryan McCann handle kickoff return duties.

And McCann averaged 26.5 yards on two returns. "David could have gone, I think, but since we had Bryan and he practiced all week, and David was coming off the shoulder, we didn't want to jeopardize him if we didn't have to," Harbaugh said. "I think it'll be a good competition between those two guys. We'll just put them both out there in practice and in games and see who can earn the job ultimately. It's good to have two guys that can go back there and do that." The Ravens also have rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams as another kickoff return candidate. Reed led the league with a 29.3 kickoff return average last season as a rookie, setting a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Texans last December. However, Reed was suspended for the first game of this season for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. And he hurt his shoulder against Tennessee covering a kickoff.

"I feel like I'm back," said Reed, who had a 77-yard kickoff return against the Titans. "The shoulder feels good now." McCann returned a punt 97 yards for a touchdown when he was with the Dallas Cowboys last year, also returning an interception 101 yards for a touchdown.

Signed to a two-year contract that included a $10,000 signing bonus, McCann is in the Ravens' plans going forward.

"He did a nice job covering punts as a gunner, and covering kickoffs on kickoff coverage," Harbaugh said. "And then he had the kickoff return where he busted it up in there. He got caught on the back side a little bit there and got knocked off, but I thought he showed some good acceleration up into the hole there."

Ravens bring back Burgess, cut LeVoir

OWINGS MILLS -- With linebacker Dannell Ellerbe sidelined for the next three to four games with left hamstring and right groin injuries, the Ravens brought back linebacker and special-teams contributor Prescott Burgess.

To make room for Burgess on the roster, the Ravens cut reserve offensive lineman Mark LeVoir. Burgess led the Ravens in special-teams tackles the past two seasons. He was released during the final major roster cutdown and later re-signed and cut again during the bye when the Ravens added McCann.

A former New England Patriots lineman signed in August, LeVoir was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Texans.

He started at left guard against the Titans, but didn't perform well with starter Ben Grubbs out with a right turf toe injury. Andre Gurode has started the past three games at left guard. LeVoir was signed to a one-year contract in August that included a $785,000 base salary, a $100,000 signing bonus and $215,000 worth of incentives.

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