ITEM: Cundiff will have competition for job
The Baltimore Ravens had a chance to send last season’s AFC Championship Game into overtime, but when Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal attempt it was the New England Patriots who advanced to Super Bowl XLVI.
The team has signed undrafted rookie Justin Tucker on May 29, and while the former Texas Longhorns placekicker is a bit of a long shot to unseat Cundiff, he will bring a strong leg to the competition.
Tucker was something of a star at the Ravens rookie minicamp. He hit a 55-yard field goal to end one practice and then was perfect in four attempts inside the 50-yard line on another day. When asked about Tucker at that time, Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said, “He gets really good lift on the ball, very accurate. He had a very good camp.”
Tucker was 40-for-48 on his field goal attempts in college.
“I look forward to it, coming in and competing against a guy that’s had success in the league,” Tucker told Ravens.com. “It’ll be a challenge, but it will be fun.”
ITEM: Binns and Tate neck-and-neck to start at WR
According to Cincinnati.com, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said Armon Binns and Brandon Tate are close in the competition to win the starting receiver job opposite A.J. Green.
“It’s early to tell, but right now I’d say it’s close,” Gruden said. “Binns and Tate are neck and neck and (Ryan) Whalen obviously, he can play everything also. They are all showing promise. Just a matter of who puts, day in and day out, the most positive days back to back to back.”
Rookie Mohamed Sanu figures to be in the competition once the pads go on at training camp, but Binns and Tate are taking advantage of their experience in the meantime.
ITEM: Benard feels “blessed” to be at OTAs
Cleveland Browns defensive end Marcus Benard had his 2011 season end after a motorcycle accident last fall in which, according to a police report, he was propelled 80 yards from the bike and sustained a broken hand and other unspecified injuries.
Benard has revealed little about the crash but said he is grateful to the Browns for paying his full salary last season ($525,000) and giving him another opportunity to resume his football career.
“You learn more about life,” Benard told The Plain Dealer. “You learn more about yourself. Sitting out and going through what I went through, rehab and everything, you always sit back and evaluate yourself and evaluate your position in life and definitely a little bit of insight.”
Benard wrecked the motorcycle on Oct. 10, 2011 while driving home from practice. A witness told police that Benard was traveling at a high rate of speed before his Can-Am Spyder bike crossed four lanes of traffic on Interstate-71 and smashed into a guard rail.
Benard posted eight sacks as a rookie in 2010, and this spring he is a reserve defensive lineman.
“I’m human – I don’t think I’m Superman,” he said. “I was just ... it was just something that happened. You’re young and you go through things.”