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After Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff combined to sink nine of 10 attempts during Saturday’s morning practice, it became further evident that it won’t be easy to separate the two kickers.
Thus, Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said he expects the final call will come near the end of the preseason.
“I would expect [it to be late] because I think both kickers are really good,” Rosburg said. “With that in mind you want to give them every opportunity and not rush to judgment.”
In the first two days of a competition that will be well-charted, Graham is 10-for-12 with misses from 38 yards on a low snap and 50 yards. Cundiff is 11-of-12 with one wide right from 41 yards. Cundiff was perfect from 30, 39, 44, 46 and 51 yards Saturday.
While the battle of veterans is quite different from last year – when youngsters Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano squared off – Graham and Cundiff are actually fairly similar.
Rosburg pointed out that both kickers are about the same on kickoffs. They both have experience. They each have strong enough legs, he said.
One advantage Cundiff has is that he was with the Ravens last year, which Rosburg said gives Cundiff more knowledge of the kickoff system and familiarity with holder Sam Koch.
In an effort to make the competition as balanced and fair as possible, Rosburg has rotated the kickers between first and second teams (thus giving them different blockers) and long-snappers (Matt Katula and Morgan Cox).
Rosburg said the results from the preseason games will be important in determining who wins the job.
“My thinking on that is that it’s much like quarterbacks,” Rosburg said. “Practice is really good and it’s valuable and you learn a lot by watching the guys in practice. But for kickers, game environments are really valuable too.”
“When the dust settles I think we’ll have our kicker. It will express itself.”