Cundiff Still Kicking From the 30

Billy Cundiff never changed where he practiced kickoffs this offseason amidst the new rule.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Sunday, August 14th, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Categories: 2011 Training Camp, Mike Duffy

When the Ravens opened their preseason Thursday night, there were 51 kickoffs from the new starting point of the 35-yard line across the NFL.
Sixteen of those boots were touchbacks, and three of those belonged to Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff.
The league’s reigning touchback producer said his ongoing success is partly due to continuing to kick from the 30-yard line during the offseason.
Cundiff believes that strategy will help the Ravens when kickoffs aren’t soaring so far for most kickers late in the season.
“I look at January, where a guy who is typically kicking the ball 5 yards deep during the season might not be able to hit there,” said Cundiff, who logged an NFL-best 40 touchbacks in 2010.
“Personally, I’m OK with the rule change. It’s going to help our defense out, and if you’re looking around the league, people are still returning kickoffs in these preseason games. The more I can do to get it in the end zone when others can’t, the better.”
Cundiff has been such a weapon that the Ravens signed him to a five-year contract just before the NFL lockout. 
Then, league owners voted to move kickoffs to the 35-yard line as a safety precaution. With fewer returns, there’s less chance of injury.
Could it have robbed the Ravens of one of their competitive advantages?
“Here’s my take on it: We’ve got a kicker that could kick touchbacks from the 30 [yard line], so putting it at the 35 doesn’t really gain us an advantage,” said Ravens Special Team Coordinator Jerry Rosburg.  “I’m for the Ravens; I’d like to put it at the 30 because we had the advantage at that point in time.  Here, it might be lost slightly but we’ll make it our advantage in some way.” 
Cundiff is confident he will shine when other kickers are wilting in the winter doldrums, pointing to last year’s game in Cleveland on Dec. 26 where he nailed several kickoffs to the end zone (even though dynamic Browns returner Joshua Cribbs ran each one out).
He showed he still possesses that strong leg in the Ravens’ Thursday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, nailing a 53-yard field goal and just missing a 55-yarder.

“I look at my stats in Cleveland.  I had one that was 2 deep, one that was 3 deep and one to the goal line.  It’s like 20 degrees with the wind swirling, and with the new rule, it’s like I’m putting it 8 deep, 5 deep, et cetera.   Touchbacks in Cleveland in late December are tough.”

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