Bryant McKinnie in Baltimore: A load lightened

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 19, 2011 - 11:48 AM

With his new team in first place and his weight down 28 pounds, things have worked out well for Bryant McKinnie, the tackle released by the Vikings.

Baltimore Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie

Photo: Wade Payne, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Bryant McKinnie said he's happy, healthy and 28 pounds lighter than the day his nine-year Vikings career came to a surprise end on Aug. 2.

"I was 383 pounds when I showed up in Mankato for training camp," said McKinnie, now the starting left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens at what he calls his normal playing weight of 355. "Yes, I was heavy. No, I wasn't 400 pounds."

McKinnie sounds happier. For good reason.

He once was a larger-than-life-size symbol of the baggage the Vikings needed to purge for the good of the team. Now, he's atop the AFC North with his 4-1 Ravens while the Vikings are last in the NFC North with a 1-5 record and some serious pass protection issues.

"When we signed him [Aug. 24], I told him this isn't our first rodeo as far as dealing with players that have issues," said Ozzie Newsome, Ravens general manager. "We will take on some of the issues if that player is willing to work with us. Bryant was more than willing. He's met every [weight] mark he was supposed to make and has actually been even better than we thought in making those marks."

McKinnie has started every game this season for a team that's fifth in the league in scoring. He's improving with each game, said Newsome, and gives Baltimore a 10-year veteran and former first-round draft pick who, like him or not, has never missed a game because of injuries or health issues.

"I wish the Vikings well," McKinnie said. "They did what they felt they had to do. I did what I felt I had to do. I'm doing fine. I look around and I can't help but think that things happen for a reason."

McKinnie said he knew his release was coming when his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, threatened to file a grievance against the Vikings for putting McKinnie on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. McKinnie said he had already rejected an offer to restructure his contract, per Rosenhaus' advice, in part because the team wanted to move some of his guaranteed money to incentives to reduce his $5.4 million salary cap figure.

"I was on the NFI, but I wasn't injured," McKinnie said. "Knowing the grievance was coming at 3 o'clock the day I was released, and knowing that they had to be under the cap two days later, the only option was to release me."

Coach Leslie Frazier never once said McKinnie was released because of his weight or poor conditioning. He simply said McKinnie was released "in the best interests" of the team.

Because of McKinnie's appearance, however, it was assumed Frazier had used the opportunity as a first-year head coach to take a stand against an out-of-shape player with a checkered past off the field.

The assumptions continued during the three weeks that McKinnie went unsigned. There was speculation that he needed a year to get back in shape and lower his cholesterol to a safe level.

"A year?" said McKinnie, apparently not aware of the rumors. "I played in Week 1. I played well. Against a good player, [Pittsburgh's] James Harrison. And we won the game, 35-7.

"As for my cholesterol, it's been high since I was 22, and they checked me at the combine. It's hereditary. I take medication to control it."

Finding a home

Newsome said it took some time to investigate McKinnie and to then secure the team's preferred two-year deal. Ravens coach John Harbaugh got a positive report from former Vikings coach Brad Childress, with whom he had coached under Andy Reid in Philadelphia. Newsome also got a couple of strong endorsements from two current Ravens who one day will join him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis lobbied Newsome hard. Reed and McKinnie were teammates at the University of Miami. Lewis was a Hurricane before them.

"I have a lot of confidence going to the players and asking them about former college teammates," Newsome said. "Ed was giving Bryant a raving endorsement when Ray overheard the conversation.

"Ray comes over to me and said Bryant would fit in with us. When you get Ray and Ed saying, 'Hey, look, if there's additional work that needs to be done with this guy, we're going to do it with him,' that makes the decision easier."

Newsome also liked that McKinnie offered to play right tackle for the first time in his life if Michael Oher, another former first-round draft pick, wanted to stay at left tackle. But Oher, who has experience at right tackle, said it would be best for the team for him to move to right tackle.

Newsome said he'd ideally like to keep McKinnie beyond two seasons and see the younger Oher move back over to left tackle when McKinnie retires.

"That's a comforting factor for me," Newsome said. "But, more importantly, it's also a comforting factor for our young quarterback, Joe Flacco."

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Carolina 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Montreal 7:30 PM
Chicago
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do against Atlanta?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close