OWINGS MILLS — The strange saga of Baltimore Ravens veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie took another awkward turn Thursday as the defending AFC North champions launched training camp.
McKinnie, 32, is absent due to an undisclosed personal issue and was officially placed on the reserve/did not report list, a situation sure to try the Ravens’ patience and potentially endanger his roster spot if it drags out too long.
"Well, he contacted us through a representative," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s dealing with an issue right now. I don’t really want to speak for him on that, just let him speak for himself on that when the time comes."
Although the situation could be resolved in a few days by McKinnie showing up at team headquarters, it’s unclear when or if he’s going to do so.
McKinnie is dealing with multiple lawsuits stemming from a $4.5 million loan taken during the NFL lockout last year as well as other growing debts incurred to agents, creditors, mortgage companies and car dealerships.
McKinnie has had multiple agents and financial advisors this offseason and no agent is currently listed for him with the NFL Players Association. He’s in the process of hiring new representation.
McKinnie didn’t return text messages seeking comment. He usually communicates on a regular basis on his Twitter account, but hasn’t posted anything since July 22.
McKinnie was paid a $500,000 roster bonus in March after pledging to general manager Ozzie Newsome that he would get in better shape. He started every game at left tackle last season after the Ravens signed him to a two-year contract that includes a $3.2 million base salary this year.
However, McKinnie was held out of a mandatory minicamp in June due to lingering conditioning issues and was told by Harbaugh to get down to a target weight of 345 pounds to be allowed to practice at camp. McKinnie was cut by the Minnesota Vikings last summer when
When asked if he knew when McKinnie might report, Harbaugh acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the former Pro Bowl blocker.
"In all honesty, I really don’t know," Harbaugh said. "We should know more here soon."
McKinnie told 24×7 this summer that he intended to silence his critics. Instead, he’s given them more ammunition.
“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. “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’ level of concern about the left tackle spot and their first mini-crisis of the season is alleviated some by the presence of Michael Oher.
A former first-round draft pick who has started every game of his career, Oher started at left tackle two seasons ago before shifting back to right tackle last season.
"With our situation, Michael Oher is the left tackle," Harbaugh said. "Just for the record, we’ve always believed Michael Oher is a left tackle here. We’re going to put the five best linemen out there.
"And last year to do that, Michael was a right tackle. I’m very comfortable with Michael at left tackle. Until further notice, he’s the left tackle."
Oher seemed to find his niche last season on the right side playing next to Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda.
At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Oher is strong, mobile and plays with intensity. However, he was prone to penalties on the left side and botched a few key assignments.
"I have a ton of confidence in Michael," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Michael is getting better and better. He is a great athlete, a lot of power, but he is one of those guys that has been in the offense a couple of years now. I think he is really starting to come into his own. So, I have a ton of confidence in him.”
The Ravens had undrafted rookie free agent Jack Cornell line up with the first-team offense at right tackle Thursday after Ramon Harewood sprained his ankle and didn’t return.
Plus, rookie second-round draft pick Kelechi Osemele is sidelined with back spasms and former third-round tackle Jah Reid is out with a strained calf.
"My point is we need to find a right tackle," Harbaugh said. "There will be heated competition for that spot."
Although McKinnie’s life has been filled with disorder lately, he’s still supported by his teammates.
"I think it’s important to have our whole team here," Flacco said. "Bryant is on the roster, and we need to get him here. He’s a good player and we need to get him here, get him running the plays and get him ready for the season, get him in football shape and make our decision from there."