The former Vikings OT Bryant McKinnie entered their camp weighing close to 400 pounds. The Vikings immediately cut the overweight lineman, but that was a bit inhumane of them. They should have taken him straight to the hospital. What was that guy eating all offseason. Butter dipped in Crisco olive oil would be my first guess.
But after nearly a month of training himself back into football shape, Bryant McKinnie agreed to a deal with the Baltimore Ravens. If McKinnie starts at LT, which is what has all but been confirmed, it will totally morph the entire offensive line. McKinnie’s start at LT would move Oher to the RT position. With Yanda and Grubbs at guard and Birk at center, this line turns from an area of weakness to an area of strength.
This is the second time this offseason that the Ravens have turned a weakness into a strength with one signing. Earlier this month, the Ravens traded for WR Lee Evans from the Buffalo Bills when questions arose regarding the experience of the wide receiver corps. Now the Ravens have one of the fastest WR corps in the league. The Mckinnie signing will do more of the same for the offensive line. And even though the signing has occurred so late in the preseason, Ozzie Newsome isn’t too concerned.
“Through the years, we’ve been fortunate to obtain players late in training camp or just before the start of the season who help us win,” says Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. “Bryant falls in this category. He’s been a productive player at one of the hardest positions to play, and he has been in sync with Matt Birk when Matt was a Viking. Plus, he has a relationship with Michael Oher and our Miami players. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed vouch for him as a person and as a player who can help us. I know these veteran players are happy we’re adding Bryant.”
Ozzie is absolutely right. Ray Lewis statement to the media showed just how happy he was.
“Some people look for speed, some people look for youth,” stated Ray Lewis. “But give me heart, wisdom and the will to play and win the game, and I will take that player on my side any day of the week. That is what Bryant has.”
That’s a pretty big endorsement from the biggest name in the franchise. But this signing is not without its risk. McKinnie was cut for a reason. Reports of his work ethic and his laziness are valid knocks on the huge lineman. While viewing tape of his performance in 2010, I noticed a number of times when he would simply give up before a given play is over. McKinnie gives speed rushers the opportunity to get close to the quarterback before actively engaging them. This technique is used by many slow reacting tackles in an attempt to gas the edge rusher out before blocking them.
Run blocking has never been a problem for this guy. McKinnie is one of the better run blocking tackles in the league. Maybe even the best. He pretty much takes the left side of the defensive line away from the ball carrier seemingly at will. At 6’8″, it was hard to even see who McKinnie was blocking during a given play. In that regard, McKinnie will be a sure upgrade.
Character issues shouldn’t be a concern as the majority of those issues took place over 3 years ago. This is purely a short term fix to a problem that had to be taken care of. The offensive line was going to be the only thing holding this team back, and Steve Bisciotti was not going to let that happen. This signing sends a message to the rest of the league as well as the Ravens’ locker room.
The Ravens want to win….and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it done.