Ravens trim roster

Ending a summer of suspense, Billy Cundiff won the Baltimore Ravens' kicking competition as Saturday as former Pro Bowl selection Shayne Graham was jettisoned.

Ultimately, Cundiff edged out the fourth-most accurate kicker in league history through superior kickoffs and slightly better accuracy as he connected on all of his preseason field goals. Graham missed one of his three preseason attempts, a 50-yard try and was roughly five-percent less accurate in practice during training camp in Westminster.

"He won a great competition, and he earned this spot," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We've talked about this the entire preseason: Both Billy and Shayne rose to the occasion and performed at high levels. We know Shayne will kick in the league, but we feel very good about the decision to go with Billy.

Meanwhile, former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and former fourth-round wide receiver Demetrius Williams were the highest-profile cuts as the Ravens got down to the NFL roster limit of 53 players. With Williams out of the picture and Donte' Stallworth out for at least two months with a broken foot, rookie fifth-round wide receiver David Reed and special teams contributor-receiver Marcus Smith made the team.

The Ravens will enter the regular season with only two quarterbacks on the roster for the first time in four years as they'll with just starter Joe Flacco and two-time Pro Bowl selection Marc Bulger as his backup.

Smith may have sealed his fate when he threw two interceptions during an erratic preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams. Although the undersized former Ohio State star rushed for two touchdowns, his decision-making and accuracy were suspect at times.

Frustrating attempts to trade Smith were met with disinterest around the league, triggering his release.

"The competition to make our team was very heated, and we decided to keep a position player rather than a third quarterback," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We have a number of young guys who made our team who have tremendous upside. Plus, they can help us win this year. We've gone with two quarterbacks before."

The Ravens made it official, placing injured star free safety Ed Reed on the reserve physically unable to perform list. That means Reed, who underwent offseason hip surgery, will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Reed met with Newsome on Friday to discuss the move. It came down to the hip not being ready and the free safety position being in good hands with Tom Zbikowski, who'll be backed up by veteran Ken Hamlin.

The season is over before it ever began for center-guard David Hale (bruised tailbone), rookie sixth-round tackle Ramon Harewood (knees), guard-tackle Stefan Rodgers (high-ankle sprain) and nose guard Kelly Talavou, all of whom were placed on injured reserve.

Talavou damaged his anterior cruciate ligament against the Rams and will require surgery. He had his best preseason ever, so the injury setback is a major disappointment to him and team officials.

Besides placing four players on injured reserve, the Ravens cut the following players: tight end Davon Drew, cornerback Travis Fisher, defensive back K.J. Gerard, Graham, wide receiver Justin Harper, cornerback Chris Hawkins, safety Brad Jones, center-guard Bryan Mattison (defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's son), outside linebacker Albert McClellan, offensive tackle-guard Joe Reitz, wide receiver Eron Riley, Smith, running back Curtis Steele, offensive tackle Devin Tyler and Williams.

The Ravens can begin forming an eight-man practice squad as soon as today, and Steele has been informed that he'll be added to the group after he clears waivers.

Besides the recent acquisition of cornerback Josh Wilson via a trade from the Seattle Seahawks and an up-and-down preseason performance, Fisher's exit may have been influenced by financial reasons.

As a vested veteran, Fisher's $755,000 base salary would have been guaranteed for the entire year if he had been on the roster for the first week of the season.

"That's what I'm hearing, that the vested veteran money had a lot to do with me getting cut," Fisher said in a telephone interview. "I had a good preseason and I thought I could have really helped the team out."

Diminutive rookie cornerback and punt returner Prince Miller was expecting to be released, but his fate changed when an unspecified trade involving another player on the Ravens' roster wasn't able to be worked out.

Miller had a 57-yard punt return against the Carolina Panthers, but made a poor decision when he retreated inside the Ravens' 10-yard line and fumbled a punt against the Rams that was recovered by Gerard for a touchback.

"I did what I could," Miller said. "I left everything I had out there on the field."

When the Ravens traded outside linebacker Antwan Barnes to the Philadelphia Eagles for a late-round 2011 draft pick, it provided a boost for the prospects of bubble linebackers Edgar Jones, Prescott Burgess and Jason Phillips.

They all survived the final major roster cutdown.

"Obviously, the coaches saw something in me," said Burgess, who led the Ravens in special-teams tackles last season and was considered a key player with Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo on the physically unable to perform list. "I've been working hard my entire life, and it's finally starting to pay off. I wanted to show them what I can do.

"I can never relax. I'm always going to feel like I'm a guy who's on the bubble. I can never be satisfied. You always have to push yourself. I'm chasing after something great."

Defensive linemen Lamar Divens and Arthur Jones made the team after Talavou was declared out for the season.

A promising fifth-round draft pick from Syracuse, Jones would likely have not been cut even if Talavou had been healthy.

"I'm really excited, I'm more motivated than ever since I made the 53-man roster," said Jones, who learned that he made the team during a meeting Saturday morning.. "I want to show them that they made a great decision drafting me and the right decision keeping me on the team. I can't wait to get to practice Monday."

Divens was overjoyed to make the team after he and his family had some anxious moments waiting it out.

"It's great to know that I'm going to be here," said Divens, who had hip flexor surgery last year and spent the season on injured reserve. "It was stressful, but I just stayed cool and prayed about it. Everything is good now. I feel blessed."

Burgess acknowledged that it's a major relief to know that he's on the team after being traded last year to the New England Patriots.

Now, he can concentrate on preparations for the Ravens' first game Sept. 13 against the New York Jets.

"It's OK now to think about the Jets," Burgess said. "Camp is over, cuts are made. Now, you worry about who we play week after week and continue to strive to be a great player."

NOTES: Harewood suffered soft-tissue damage during minicamp and has his knees constantly wrapped up. The former Morehouse standout was under the impression earlier in the day that he had made the 53-man roster.

"It's been a long, long, hard road," said Harwood, the first Barbados native to play in the NFL. "It's exciting. At the same time, it's a bigger responsibility now. In the NFL, the excitement comes and goes so quickly. It's straight back to work now." ...

Cornerback Cary Williams' two-game suspension for violating the NFL personal conduct policy has begun. He doesn't count against the active roster and is on an exempt suspended list.


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