OWINGS MILLS — Under scrutiny due to his conditioning issues, Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie vowed that he’ll hit his target weight by training camp.
The 6-foot-8 former Pro Bowl blocker was held out of the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp as he attempts to get down to 345 pounds, saying he currently weighs 354 pounds.
"I’m going to show up at the weight I’m supposed to be and handle my business and get everybody off my back," McKinnie said in a telephone interview Monday night from New York. "I want to get this work done, come in at the right weight and shut everybody up. I’m only nine pounds away.
"I’m getting in shape. I’m lower now in my weight than any time last year. I think people got the wrong idea about why I wasn’t out there last week."
The Ravens picked up a $500,000 roster bonus for McKinnie in March after he made a pledge to general manager Ozzie Newsome that he would participate in the offseason conditioning program and get in better shape.
During that time, McKinnie has lost roughly 10 pounds.
Prior to the Ravens’ minicamp, McKinnie said he met with team officials and was told the plan was to not practice for precautionary reasons to avoid any potential injuries.
"I was there every day, I was inside lifting and running," McKinnie said. "I’m just getting ready for the season and getting my body right."
McKinnie was cut by the Minnesota Vikings last summer after ballooning up to 387 pounds during the NFL lockout.
He was signed by the Ravens and started every game, playing his way into shape.
McKinnie said he gained weight during the work stoppage partially due to eating late at night while supervising recording sessions for his music label.
"For people to say I had a weight issue my whole career, that’s just wrong," McKinnie said. "That happened one year and that was after the lockout. I’ve still got bitter Vikings fans Tweeting me. I feel like that’s uncalled for. It’s not like I’ve struggled with my weight every year. When I was with the Vikings, I didn’t let anybody beat me out.
"They just awarded it to somebody and then you saw they went and drafted somebody this year in the first round, [USC All-American offensive tackle Matt Kalil]. I feel like the Vikings fans are just bitter. They obviously follow me on Twitter, so I’m starting to believe that."
The primary focus for McKinnie isn’t only his weight. It’s improving from a cardiovascular standpoint to build his stamina for the rigors of playing four quarters.
"It’s the type of cardio you do to keep the wind going," McKinnie said. "It’s not doing as much banging on the knees. My whole goal is to slim down. It’s about working smart based on losing weight.
"I’m lighter now. They want me to get back to where I was at Minnesota. It’s about getting back to that Pro Bowl level, and that’s what I’m trying to do."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to elaborate on what McKinnie needs to do to be on the field when camp opens in July.
Harbaugh also praised the work of Michael Oher, who lined up at left tackle in McKinnie’s place last week.
“We will leave that between us,” Harbaugh said last week. “That’s something that’s an in-house type of thing right now. Bryant has done a good job, he’s worked hard. It’s not as simple as some of you guy want to make it.
“It’s just a situation where we are going to do what’s best for the team, what’s best for Bryant. We want him here. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be here. He has worked hard, so you try to do what’s most beneficial for every guy in every situation. And it’s always individualized.”
McKinnie said he’ll spend the next six weeks working out in South Florida with trainer Pete Bommarito.
Several NFL players, including former Ravens wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth, work out with Bommarito.
"I’m looking forward to that," McKinnie said. "It’s definitely a good atmosphere with a lot of NFL players and hard working guys."
McKinnie, 32, who’s facing a lawsuit from a loan he took during the lockout, said he’s also about to sign with a new agent. He was previously represented this year by Drew Rosenhaus followed by Jason Fletcher.
According to NFL Players Association records, McKinnie is currently represented by three agents: Michael Weisberg, Ian Greengross and Ashanti Webb.
McKinnie is due a $3.2 million base salary this year.
McKinnie said he’s looking forward to playing next to former Cincinnati Bengals offensive guard Bobbie Williams on left side.
"He’s been around for a while," McKinnie said. "He’s definitely respected."
Although McKinnie had his moments last season, especially in the first game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he knocked down outside linebacker James Harrison, he didn’t always grade out very highly as a run blocker.
"I’m a little more familiar with the offense and the team environment, so I should be able to play a little better," McKinnie said. "I want to be more consistent. Hopefully, everybody steps in and does what they need to do. I’m looking to get a Super Bowl ring. I need one after all this times."