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Cundiff hoping for another playoff shot

Cundiff hoping for another playoff shot

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) There's no questioning how badly Billy Cundiff wants another chance in the playoffs after the way last season ended.

Cundiff and the Baltimore Ravens stayed home after he missed a potential tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the AFC championship game and New England went to the Super Bowl last season instead.

These days, Cundiff has no qualms discussing his greatest career disappointment. He hopes to soon make a new impression on the NFL's postseason - succeeding as San Francisco's starting kicker.

``You don't have to tiptoe around this. Ask what you want to ask,'' Cundiff instructed while standing at his locker before Tuesday's practice.

While coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to name Cundiff or incumbent David Akers the top guy for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Green Bay, Cundiff is preparing as if he will play.

Cundiff took a field trip Monday to Candlestick Park to practice in the elements off San Francisco Bay, though there was hardly any wind during his hour-long session alongside holder Andy Lee and long snapper Brian Jennings - with the supervision of special teams coach Brad Seely.

Cundiff attempted between 30 and 40 field goals and also launched some kickoffs. Come Saturday, a sellout crowd will pack the place as San Francisco (11-4-1) tries to take a step toward reaching its first Super Bowl since after the 1994 season.

``It was a fairly calm day from what I understand, and I was told not to get too used to that,'' Cundiff said. ``The conditions were pretty nice. I think (I adjusted) the best that I can after one day. Guys get used to stadiums after playing there for many years so I think I know it as well as I can with what the current situation is. ... We're trying to cram in what you would do in the offseason - April, May, June, you get a little bit of July off and then most of August - so you're taking four months and squeezing it into about three days.''

Last summer, Cundiff figured he would get another chance to change his fortunes this season with the Ravens, but they parted ways with him Aug. 26 before Cundiff landed in nearby Washington.

The Redskins then released him on Oct. 9 after he missed five of his 12 field goal attempts.

Three months later and across the country, Cundiff is playing for John Harbaugh's little brother, Jim - perhaps finally poised to get that shot for another Harbaugh. San Francisco signed him Jan. 1 after Akers struggled once again during a 27-13 victory in the regular-season finale against Arizona.

The 32-year-old Cundiff realizes joining a new team at this late stage is a ``unique'' circumstance, but he knows he will fit in as long as he goes about his business and does his job when called upon.

``You're only as much of an outsider as you allow yourself to feel,'' Cundiff said. ``For me, I feel like it's the ultimate compliment that a team that's playing in the playoffs would use a roster spot on a guy like myself. They obviously have a lot of confidence in my abilities or they wouldn't have brought me in here. I feel like that is the ultimate compliment, so I'm going to take that confidence out on the field and not really worry about the rest.''

Harbaugh has said there is a ``leader in the clubhouse,'' but hasn't said who it is. He probably won't until he absolutely has to, either, to keep the Packers guessing.

Cundiff has moved forward from how last season ended, knowing John Harbaugh trusted him to bounce back. Probably not in this very situation, however."Maybe that was a compliment that in the fact that he didn't feel like he had to talk me off the ledge or console me,'' Cundiff said. ``I was obviously disappointed, and if I wasn't disappointed I think he would have bigger concerns. But at the same time I think he knew I would pick myself up. I've been through a lot in my career and I've dealt with some strange situations, and this is maybe just another one of them. I feel the way that I approach things, I think people know that I can handle it. Maybe that's why I keep getting thrown into the fire.''

Notes: San Francisco signed LB Nate Stupar to the practice squad. ... LB Aldon Smith (shoulder) practiced in a non-contact black jersey, along with CB Tarell Brown (shoulder, knee).

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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.