I traveled to the stadium yesterday with two of my good friends and needless to say we weren’t disappointed. Public practice has always been a thrill for me and yesterday was no exception. As always, I was watching with a keen eye watching out for guys that stand out at practice and those that faded into the background. Yesterday, it was fairly easy to spot those that had a good practice and those that didn’t fair so well.
Highlight of the Day: Justin Tucker
I was hearing a lot of talk about the kicker from Texas and I couldn’t help but get excited when I saw him go head-to-head with Billy Cundiff and put on a show for the crowd. Tucker and Cundiff delivered on each kick they were asked to make until they decided to back up and go for the gold. Tucker walked up to a 62-yard-field-goal and nailed it through the uprights, while Billy Cundiff failed miserably on his long attempt of the day at 65 yards.
I may have given Cundiff a hard time in my previous blog regarding the two kickers, but needless to say he had it coming for him. What I didn’t think he completely deserved was the chagrin he must have felt when it appeared the entire stadium was rooting against him as he and Tucker were kicking field goals. Fans were constantly booing Cundiff as he approached kicks and sometimes even when he made kicks. I was sitting in front of a fan that yelled, “Cundiff, why don’t you make kicks that matter? These actually count now because Tucker has your job!” While I still don’t whole-heartedly blame him for our defeat against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, as that kick would have only landed us a chance to win in overtime, I see the man’s point. I personally can’t believe Cundiff is even back when a whole city seems to have rallied against him. Hopefully Cundiff can compete with Tucker and the way I see it, if Cundiff is the Ravens kicker and they let Tucker go, he will definately make another roster this fall.
Some Rookies Shine, Others Need Work
While Courtney Upshaw missed practice again, I focused my attention on some of the new additions and young players on the squad this year. As far as rookies go, Kelechi Osemele impressed me the most. He looks like a natural mauler at right tackle and I’m strongly awaiting to see him in real games to see if he can’t translate the way he has performed on the practice field to gameday. The one thing I noticed he does well is hold his ground against defenders. For the most part, he dominated in the run game and he digs his feet in real well whenever the Ravens passed and stalled the incoming defender’s progress. He did struggle when he went up against Paul Kruger though as Kruger used his speed rush moves to blow by him and get to the quarterback. Kruger was playing like a man possessed yesterday on both the left and right side. Osemele will get better against the better players, it’s just a matter of repetition.