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Justin Tucker Makes Case For Kicking Job

Posted Aug 23, 2012

The Ravens gave all the kicking duties to Justin Tucker, which 'shocked' Billy Cundiff.

The Ravens gave Justin Tucker every chance to seize the starting kicking job Thursday night.

And he did everything possible to unseat incumbent Billy Cundiff.

Tucker handled all of the kicking duties and he converted on both of his attempted field goals, hitting from 33 and 53 yards in the Ravens' 48-17 victory over Jacksonville at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I feel like it couldn't have gone any better," Tucker said. "It was nothing short of just an awesome time."

The coaching staff decided to give Cundiff the night off to get a better look at Tucker in game situations, seeing if he could prove himself over the course of an entire contest.

"Billy's proven; Tuck has not proven," Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "This is something that [Tucker] needed. We needed to see if he could handle a whole game from beginning to end and have that pressure on him."

When Cundiff was informed about the decision, he admitted he was disappointed.

"I found out before this game that I wasn't going to get any reps, which shocked me," Cundiff said. "I felt like I had a really good week of practice, so it'll just play itself out.

"I'm a competitor. Anytime you feel like you're not getting reps, the competitive side comes out and you feel like you want to be the one out there kicking."

Cundiff and Tucker have been locked in a tight kicking battle throughout training camp, and neither of them has missed a kick in a preseason game.  While Cundiff wanted to kick in Thursday's game, he doesn't feel the need to over-analyze the situation.

"I don't think you need to read into anything," Cundiff said. "In this business you're kind of on a need-to-know basis and they'll let you know when you need to know."

Cundiff, a nine-year veteran, also said that going through this kind of a position battle is nothing new for him.

"This is my ninth team, you have to understand that I've been through a lot of different situations," he said. "When you're on a team, you're on a team, and when they don't want you on they'll let you know really quickly and you'll be out. Until that point, I feel like I've kicked extremely well and I'm going to continue to kick well."

Coming into training camp, Cundiff was viewed as the favorite to win the job despite the game-tying miss in the AFC championship game. Harbaugh and the organization stood by Cundiff after that game, and Cundiff said that Harbaugh told him after the 2011 season that the kicking job would be his if he kicked well during training camp.

After Thursday's game, Harbaugh did not specify who has an edge in the competition. 

"Well we'll see.  We have to make some decisions here again next week," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how that goes."

Both have kicked well during practice, with Tucker having a slight edge, especially on attempts longer than 50 yards. Harbaugh emphasized that both players have performed at a high level during camp.

"Billy has had a great camp," Harbaugh said. "He's done really well. I think we know Billy. Billy would have come in here and made every one of those kicks."

And for Tucker, he said that he's not getting too caught up in Thursday night's preseason audition.

"This whole process, stemming back from OTAs and minicamp, has been an audition," Tucker said. "I knew it was a great opportunity and I'm thankful for it. I'm glad everything went well tonight."

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