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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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Bearded look back for Weddle, and will stay if Ravens keep winning

Bearded look back for Weddle, and will stay if Ravens keep winning

For Ravens safety Eric Weddle, the beard is back.

Weddle was sporting his signature full beard on the first day of training camp, much different than the closely-trimmed look he had in March after signing with the Ravens.

As soon as Weddle cut his beard last winter, he said he regretted it. Now he has recommitted to the beard he has worn most of his nine-year NFL career.

“It’s feeling good,” Weddle said after Thursday’s practice. “I’m just letting it grow. It’s a lot more full this time around, which is nice. I haven’t been wearing a chin strap for the last three months. It’s coming in even. We’ll see where it goes. I might be sporadic and just cut it or I might let it go.”

RELATED: DAY 1 TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

The Ravens are more interested in how Weddle plays than how he looks. But since minicamps, the three-time Pro Bowl player has been making a strong impression as the new leader of the secondary.

“He looks good back there, he does,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “It does seem seamless, with an “A”. He looks like he knows what he is doing, like he has been playing for a long time, and he is a really smart football player. I would say he is as advertised that way, and it is good for us.”

Ravens fans should be hoping Weddle’s beard is even longer by December.

“If we’re winning, it’s going to there and be full,” Weddle said.

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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP