May 23, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie (78), tackle Michael Oher (74) and tackle Marshal Yanda (73) during the Baltimore Ravens OTA at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE
The Baltimore Ravens gave veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie a $500,000 roster bonus earlier this spring, but now might be regretting the outlay of cash. McKinnie came toBaltimore after the Minnesota Vikings cut him last summer for reporting to camp overweight. The Ravens rounded him into shape and he had a pretty solid year, allowing the team to shift Michael Oher over to right tackle and solidify that side of the offensive line.
McKinnie reportedly was on his way to getting in good shape earlier this year, but the mos recent news was that the team held him out of the mini-camp this past week for "conditioning reasons." This does not bode well for either the Ravens nor McKinnie.
Bryant is on the short end of a legal case where he defaulted on a $4 million loan he took out during the NFL Lockout last year and seriously needs a full season paycheck to pay it back. If he does not report to the Ravens Training Camp in six weeks in excellent shape, there is a very good chance that the team may decide to cut ties with him and let him go.
That would mean that the Ravens would probably move Oher back to the left tackle position, which could upset the chemistry of the offensive line. Already in the market for a new left guard to replace Ben Grubbs, the Ravens are looking at a plethora of guys, with the word being that recently signed veteran guard and former Cincinnati Bengals Bobbie Williams has the inside track.
If this happens, then who moves out to the right tackle slot? Is it Jah Reid, who was injured, though not seriously, at last week's mini-camp? Would Marshal Yanda slide out from his right guard spot like he did in 2010 and if so, then who would take his spot? The team has loaded up on offensive lineman over the draft and the past few weeks, signing both Williams as well as former St. Louis Rams guard/center Tony Wragge.
QB Joe Flacco needs a solid offensive line in order to continue his progression to the top part of the league's quarterbacks. Regardless of the wide receivers the team has in camp, without protection, the air attack will not improve. In addition, the run game will suffer without a cohesive unit, and with veteran center Matt Birk at the tail end of his career and coming off varicose vein surgery, even his position is in a state of flux.
The team did draft what many think will be his ultimate successor in Delaware center Gino Gradkowski, but to expect him to anchor the o-line as a rookie is a tall task, especially if you add in the other issues on both sides of center.
The obvious answer is for McKinnie to get his butt in shape, and return to camp in tip-top condition, leaving Oher at right tackle where he could be among the best in the league. With Yanda at his more natural position of right guard and a healthy Birk at center, the new addition of a veteran like Bobbie Williams joining the team and moving from his previous position as a right guard to left guard is not nearly a tough transition as many might think.
Come on, Bryant, a lot is riding on you this coming season. More than just your own paycheck. So get it in gear and earn it!