Notebook: Ravens' kicker competition ensues

OWINGS MILLS - Billy Cundiff calmly knocked every field goal through the uprights Tuesday. If the Baltimore Ravens' incumbent kicker was upset about the presence of former Pro Bowl kicker Shayne Graham, it didn't show in his actions or his demeanor. Months ago, team officials informed Cundiff that they planned to sign Graham.

And he knew that Graham wasn't given any guaranteed money in his one-year contract that could possibly tilt the competition in Graham's favor for financial considerations.

The Ravens signed Graham to a deal worth up to $2.5 million with a $1.5 million base salary and $1 million in incentives that he can reach if he makes 85 percent of his kicks.

From Cundiff's standpoint, all he wants is a fair shot to win the job.

"It's something I knew was going to happen," said Cundiff, who signed his $1.1 million restricted tender in April. "They wanted to bring in the best competition possible. They've got to do what's best for the team. I knew that going in, and this is exactly where I expected to be."

Signed as the replacement for Steve Hauschka, Cundiff converted 12 of 17 field goals for the Ravens last season while dealing with long snapper Matt Katula's uncharacteristic struggles stemming from tendinitis in his snapping elbow.

Graham, who missed a pair of short field goals during the Cincinnati Bengals' playoff loss to the New York Jets, is the fourth-most accurate kicker in league history.

Graham hit all of his field goals Tuesday, too, converting kicks ranging between 20 and 51 yards.

Cundiff said he doesn't pay attention to how Graham is kicking. He approaches the competition as if he's a scratch golfer concentrating on his own birdies.

He's also accustomed to competitions from his journey around the NFL.

"I think bouncing around a lot helps because I've been in a bunch of different places, and I've been in a bunch of different situations," Cundiff said. "So you get into this kind of deal where you compete with somebody.

"I'm not saying I've-been-there-done-that, but the mentality is one that I don't have to worry about all the extra things. I just have to worry about myself, worry about making kicks, and let the rest take care of itself."

GAITHER A NO-SHOW: One day after reporting to workouts and signing his $2.396 million restricted tender, offensive tackle Jared Gaither was nowhere to be found Tuesday.

Gaither had been out with a foot injury since May 7 when the team shifted him to right tackle and replaced him with Michael Oher on the left side.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he didn't know why Gaither wasn't at the voluntary practice, but indicated it wasn't injury-related.

Gaither had a cortisone shot on his foot and had orthotics fitted for his shoe.

"He practiced yesterday, did a nice job," Harbaugh said. "Told me the foot felt a lot better, the injection worked. The orthotics made a big difference.

"I have not seen him, it was not an injury. So, I have not talked to him today and I don't know what his reason for not being here is."

Gaither has been linked to many trade rumors this offseason, especially the Buffalo Bills, but nothing concrete.

NGATA RETURNS TO PRACTICE: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata took part in individual drills, marking his return from a torn left pectoral muscle suffered during the Pro Bowl.

He said he's ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.

Ngata estimated that he's 75 percent to 80 percent recovered and expects to be completely back before training camp.

"I felt good," Ngata said. "I'll definitely be ready for training camp. All I got to do now is get the strength back. All the range of motion is there. I'm just working on building muscle back and making sure I'm keeping up with the plays."

Ngata said he was surprised his chest healed so fast. Initially, he thought he would be sidelined for the entire offseason.

"It just felt really good pretty quickly," Ngata said. "I'm working on getting my strength back. I can't lift anything too heavy right now. It's feeling good. I'll be back before camp definitely."

COUSINS HAS THROAT SURGERY: Offensive tackle Oniel Cousins had a surgical scope procedure on his throat.

Dealing with a major bout with strep throat for weeks, Cousins opted to have the minor operation to speed up his recovery.

It's anticipated that Cousins will be back in time for training camp, which is set to start July 27 for rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans.

Cousins has been lining up with the first-team offense at right tackle with Jared Gaither sidelined with a foot injury.

With Gaither out as well as Cousins, the Ravens lined up Tony Moll at right tackle.

LANDRY SIGNS TENDER: Strong safety Dawan Landry signed his one-year, $1.759 million restricted tender.

Landry was assigned a second-round tender. He indicated Tuesday that he was about to sign his contract after his pursuit of a long-term deal didn't go anywhere.

"Everybody wants to do a long-term deal, all of us were hoping for the same thing," Landry said. "But it probably won't happen."

Landry returned last season from a neck injury that required surgery and sidelined him for all but two games in 2008. He recorded a career-high 89 tackles and registered four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown as he started every game.

"After being out the whole year and coming back, I felt I got better each and every week," Landry said.

The Ravens' lone unsigned restricted free agent is Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain, who was assigned a $2.396 million first-round tender.

MCKINNEY ON THE MEND: Big nose guard Brandon McKinney took part in individual drills for the first time since undergoing back surgery to repair a herniated disc in February.

McKinney said he's down to 345 pounds from a high of 360 pounds. He has set a goal of getting down to 330 pounds.

"It went good, man," he said. "It felt pretty good. I'm lighter than I was, I was up there. I've had no setbacks. Everything is straight."

QUICK HITS: Ten players didn't attend the voluntary workout for various reasons: safety Ed Reed (hip surgery), middle linebacker Ray Lewis, center Matt Birk, defensive end Trevor Pryce outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson (shoulder surgery), running back Willis McGahee as well as Gaither and Cousins. ... The Ravens cut second-year outside linebacker Willie VanDeSteeg, who was on the practice squad last season after going undrafted out of the University of Minnesota.


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