The latest chapter in the Ravens kicking competition unfolded Friday night during the Ravens’ 27-12 preseason loss to the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium.
Tucker has pushed Cundiff throughout training camp, but the incumbent still feels like the job is his to lose.
“The way the coaches have approached me and the way everybody in the organization has approached it is that if I kick well, this is my job,” Cundiff said after the game. “This isn’t necessarily a competition between myself and Justin. This is really a competition with myself and how good I can be.”
Cundiff hit field goals of 33 and 44 yards, while Tucker converted from 50 and 45 yards in Friday’s game.
“They weren’t gimmes,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said about the kicks. “There were tougher ones. They were a little further out and they both kicked good straight balls.”
Cundiff’s first kick was the 33 yarder, which was his first field goal in game action since last year’s AFC championship loss. He came onto the field to a smattering of boos from the home fans, but came off to cheers after putting it through the uprights.
“It felt good to get back and get in the grove,” Cundiff said. “I feel like I’ve got a good comfort level in this stadium.
“I feel like kicking in this stadium, I’m not going to say I can’t miss, but I’ve got all the confidence in the world. I feel like I’m going to go out and I’m going to make everything I kick. It was good to get back in that.”
Tucker feels just as confident.
“My confidence is as high as it’s ever been,” the rookie said. “But that being said, I’m not going to let myself get carried away.”
Friday’s game was Tucker’s first action at M&T Bank Stadium other than an open stadium practice a couple weeks ago. Tucker, who kicked at the University of Texas, didn’t seem fazed by the bigger stage.
“It’s fun to go and hit a couple at home in front of a pretty packed house for a preseason game,” Tucker said. “[At Texas] we sat about 103,000 people in our stadium on a packed night. So being able to take that experience and just be in that environment has been really valuable.”
The competition between the two has been close throughout training camp, as both are kicking well. One area where Tucker has outperformed Cundiff is from long range, as Tucker has boomed a field goal as long as 63 yards.
“We’ve just been a little more aggressive,” Cundiff said. “We’ve got a young guy in camp, so kicking 65-yard field goals seems to be like the flavor of the week.”
Cundiff struggled from long range last year, converting just one of six attempts from beyond 50 yards, and he thinks the coaching staff is challenging him to see if he can improve in that area.
“I think they’re continuing to push me because they know what they’re going to get inside of 50, and I think they’re going to continue to push me to continue to expand what I can do,” Cundiff said.
Cundiff did miss from 28 and 38 yards during practice this week, but overall he has been consistent from inside 50 yards. He said that he’s actually having a better training camp than in 2010 when he beat out Shayne Graham for the starting job and ended up making the Pro Bowl.
Cundiff says that his mentality has not changed based on the challenge Tucker has provided, and he is confident that if he continues to kick well, the starting job will be his when the regular season arrives.
“Even at the end of the season last year, after we were up in New England, and [Coach Harbaugh] said to me, ‘You’ll be fine,’” Cundiff said. “Then the next day I talked to him and he said, ‘You kick well in training camp and this is your job; you’re the guy.’ So that’s been my mentality the entire time.”