The Ravens lead the NFL in kickoff average with a 72.7-yard average, and much of the credit goes to kicker Billy Cundiff, who is tied with the Indianapolis Colts' Pat McAfee for the league lead in touchbacks with 11.
"Well, I think we are covering well, but the kicker has had a lot to do with that," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "He's kicked them deep in the end zone. They've brought them out. It messes up the timing of the kick return, and we've had a bunch of touchbacks, which are automatically at the 20-yard line. So I can't say enough about what Billy has done with that."
Cundiff and the rest of the team's kickoff coverage unit will face a stern test next Sunday when they meet Brandon Tate of the New England Patriots.
Tate ranks second in the league among return specialists with at least 10 returns with a 33.4-yard average. He is tied with the Seattle Seahawks' Leon Washington for the NFL lead in kick return touchdowns with two.
"Huge challenge this week," Harbaugh said. "Brandon Tate is emerging as one of the best kickoff returners in the league. [At] North Carolina, he had a bunch of returns for touchdowns. He's had two so far this year. He's a speedster. He's got a great knack and vision. They're being schemed up as well as you're ever going to be schemed up with Scott O'Brien, their special teams coordinator. They've had two weeks to study us and work on what we're doing, and that's something that we're very concerned about."