Thankfully, the Baltimore Ravens are giving the downtrodden Oriole masses something to pre-occupy or minds…News!! No, the re-hiring of George Kokinis is neither big, nor unexpected news, it is something positive. Kokinis was the Ravens director of pro personnel until 2008 when he left the club to become the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Kokinis’ stay in Cleveland was brief and contemptuous, but it allows the Ravens to bring back a front office mind they think highly of and have a great deal of experience working with. Kokinis’ new title will be Senior Personnel Assistant and will work closely alongside Ozzie and Vince Newsome in evaluating and acquiring pro talent. I like the move. Kokinis has a good reputation around the league and has a track record with the Ravens.
In other news, this of the bigger variety, the Ravens are reportedly close to a 1 year deal with former Cincinnati Bengals PK Shayne Graham. Graham’s name has been linked to the Ravens for a good bit of the off-season, and now the club appears ready to bring him aboard to at least compete with incumbent kicker Billy Cundiff. Graham is an accurate kicker, but he has struggled on kick-offs in recent years and missed 2 big kicks in the Bengals play-off game against the New York Jets. According to Bengals fans there are reasons Cincy was no longer interested in Graham. And it is not his lack of a rap sheet (hey ohh!!!). Graham has had increasing struggles in clutch kicking situations and is apparently not the best guy in the locker room.
I am not sold on Graham’s ability to be the guy for the Ravens. Graham has seemingly saved his best for the Ravens connecting on 28 of 33 FG’s. I guess what alarms me most is that Graham seems to have fallen out of favor so quickly in Cincy for a guy that is one of the more accurate kickers in the league. Maybe the Bengals know something we don’t know or maybe they felt like Mike Nugent was simply an upgrade over Graham. Training camp will show a lot and the Ravens are in a much better place having Graham compete with Cundiff than they were having Steve Hauschka square off against Graham Gano. It makes me anxious to go into another season with a kicker that comes up small in the big moments. Who do you prefer Cundiff or Graham?