- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Neil Rackers’ release from the Washington Redskins seemed to indicate this was incumbent Graham Gano’s job yet again. Monday’s relief was gone 24 hours later.

Tuesday morning, the Redskins cut Gano and signed Billy Cundiff, who brought his own cocky attitude to the team despite just being released by the Baltimore Ravens. Cundiff wasn’t surprised to be snapped up.

“It was one of those things that I knew that I was kicking extremely well. If you look at the stats that I had when I was in Baltimore as a full-time guy the last two years: I had 90 percent inside of 50 [yards], I had like 84 combined touchbacks in two seasons, I’d only missed one kick in the fourth quarter in two years,” he said. “Those kind of things were what my resume showed, so I kind of felt like that was what was out there, and I knew a team would jump fast, and so I’m glad to be here.”

The 32-year-old made 28 of 37 field goal attempts last season (75.6 percent), his eighth in the NFL. Gano converted 31 of 41 tries (also 75.6 percent).

But the team cut ties with the Gano, 25, in favor of Cundiff.

“We had the opportunity to get Billy,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “By our research over the years, we just thought it was the best move for us at this time, gives us the best chance to win.”

The Ravens decided to keep undrafted rookie Justin Tucker over Cundiff, but the Redskins made it clear Cundiff wouldn’t have to battle for this job.

“We wanted to make sure they were going to make a commitment,” Cundiff said. “I feel like I earned that within my career.”

Cundiff is perhaps most known for missing a 32-yarder in last year’s AFC championship game at the New England Patriots that could have sent the game into overtime. Cundiff said it took some time to gain perspective and move past that miss, but he wasn’t sure if that was the reason the Ravens cut him loose.

“It could be. That’s what I asked them, and they said it wasn’t,” he said. “But to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t really matter anymore. I’m excited for a new start.”

Long snapper Nick Sundberg and holder Sav Rocca will have to adjust, but Tuesday brought encouraging words for their now-former teammate.

“I love the guy, 100 percent. I think he’s an excellent kicker,” Sundberg said of Gano. “I think he’s on his way to being one of the best in the league at what he does. I wish him the best, and I think given the opportunity, he can still follow that.”

Cundiff shared some wisdom with Gano as well as the two colleagues traded text messages.

“He’s got a strong leg, and I think that as in my text I told him, never lose confidence in yourself, continue to work,” Cundiff said. “It’s the life we live as kickers. You’ve just got to make sure that you never lose that confidence.”

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