As one ball after another flew through the uprights at M&T Bank Stadium during yesterdays public practice, fans could see what the Ravens coaches have known since minicamp: The battle for the kicker job is shaping up to be a doozy.
Veteran Billy Cundiff and rookie Justin Tucker were both superb yesterday in front of roughly 20,000 fans who braved the heat and humidity to watch the Ravens work out. Whether kicking in a drill or in simulated pressure situations, both kickers were up to the task.
Cundiff got things going by making five straight kicks in the field-goal portion of practice, hitting from 30, 41, 48, 54 and 31 yards. Tucker answered, also hitting from 30, 41, 48 and 54. But for Tuckers fifth kick, he backed up and nailed a 63-yarder. Seeing that, Cundiff set up from 65 yards. His kick was online but fell just a few yards short.
Its amazing the competitiveness of these guys, coach John Harbaugh said. Tuck makes the 63 yarder, so Billys like, Put it back to 65. It was a great kick, just a little bit short. Both those kicks were pretty amazing.
Tucker noted that if Cundiff had made the 65-yarder, "I would have asked for the same kick."
I think they just wanted to let us have some fun out there today and let em rip, he said.
The kicks just kept coming during situational drills. At one point, the Ravens simulated being down by two points in the final minute at the opposing 41-yard line. The drive stalled, but then Cundiff hit a 57-yard field goal.
For the next series, the Ravens trailed by two in the final minute. Lest there be any doubt about the pressure, the Ravens used the stadium clock throughout the drill. With three seconds left, Tucker calmly walked out and hit a 48-yarder for the win.
We got of reps for the kickers in game-like situations. Harbaugh said. Both those guys kicked about as well as you can kick.
Tucker made some pressure kicks in his career at Texas, but he admitted being fired up for his first experience in an NFL stadium as an NFL player.
I wanted to treat today like a game day, Tucker said. That was kind of the environment in this locker room before we all headed out. Getting a good number of kicks, and making them all, I couldnt have asked for anything more.