The mysterious absences of Bryant McKinnie are beginning to develop a foul odor. Let’s allow that to linger like a Cranberries’ song for a moment.
If you were asked to pick a single unit on the team that really needed to step up its collective game this season, most would say the offensive line.
· The Ravens lost Pro Bowl Guard Ben Grubbs to free agency
· The interior line was embarrassed by Vince Wilfork in the AFC Championship Game
· The offense needs to be more productive to help offset the loss of Terrell Suggs
It’s not as though the Ravens haven’t tried to improve the line. They entertained free agent offensive linemen Evan Mathis and Eric Winston. That didn’t’ work out.
They spent two draft picks in 2012 (a second and fourth) to help provide youthful depth. So far one can’t stay on the field (Kelechi Osemele) and the other (Gino Gradkowski) is a smallish guard/center who hails from a relatively small school (Delaware).
Now back to that stench…
In March Ozzie Newsome met with McKinnie prior to the team committing a $500,000 roster bonus. Pay the bonus and the Ravens retain the rights to McKinnie. Fail to pay it and the aspiring musical producer would become a free agent.
After a heart-to-heart with Ozzie (maybe that should be a heart-to-1/2 heart)
McKinnie pledged to participate in offseason activities and report in good shape.
And now for some reason my mind drifts to that scene in Jerry McGuire when the character played by Beau Bridges tells Jerry, “my word is stronger than oak.”
So yesterday after an offseason shrouded in spin we are told that the team heard from McKinnie THROUGH A REPRESENTATIVE that he has a personal matter to address (reportedly defaulting on a $4M “lockout loan”) and he wouldn’t be on the field.
Queue up that follow up scene in Jerry McGuire…
Addressing the situation after practice yesterday coach Harbaugh proclaimed that “Until further notice, Michael Oher is our left tackle.”
Harbaugh would add that, “And now we’re looking for a right tackle.”
One day into camp, the one unit on the team that more than any other needed to step up, and today they find themselves in search of a right wing man!
And consider this, which makes this all sound even more alarming, by the middle of practice on the first day of camp no less, the player running with the 1’s at right tackle was newcomer Cord Howard, a 2010 undrafted free agent with a total of 4 starts under his belt.
Howard is so new to the Ravens that his name wasn’t even on the back of his jersey yesterday.
Ok so it’s early, I’ll give you that and it’s better to have this problem now than later. But look around. There’s Osemele with a back issue; Jah Reid with a calf issue; Ramon Harewood who seems to injure himself reaching for his alarm clock.
And then there’s McKinnie.
Back in April, Harbaugh had this to say about the enigmatic former Viking.
"He’s been working in the offseason. He’s training. He’s in the same shape he was in when he left. We want to improve that from now until the start of next season. I’m talking about weight-wise to finish his career the way he wants to finish it and go on with his quality of life, and he’s capable of doing it.”
“His quality of life…”
McKinnie is an active tweeter on Twitter and has 47,981 tweets to his credit. His last tweet (as of this writing) was on July 22. Very few of his tweets are about football.
Something isn’t right here.
Consider all of the talk about McKinnie missing OTA’s because the coaching staff wanted him to focus on conditioning and getting down to the targeted 345 pounds.
Why would the OTA’s hurt his conditioning?
Wouldn’t running through drills and plays with his teammates actually lather him up a bit on a hot day in June?
Didn’t he show up at 375 pounds last year and do ok during the season?
If he’s close to the 345 pound target isn’t that good enough for now. A man that size practicing in the oppressive heat we experienced on the field at the Under Armour Performance Center yesterday could drop 5-10 pounds easily after a couple days of Louisiana swamp weather!
The Ravens really have great team chemistry and they are loaded with guys who love to play football. The aloof McKinnie doesn’t really seem to be a great team guy and he doesn’t really seem to like football.
And now the Ravens, a team with Super Bowl aspirations, 45 days removed from the start of the season are in search of a right tackle.
Don’t be surprised if Ozzie uses McKinnie’s $3.2 M in cap space to find a player who might be able to hold down the right edge, kill to play for a winner, loves the game and embraces the concept of “TEAM”.
And then maybe that stench will evaporate and the “quality of life” might improve for the Ravens’ offense.