Bryant McKinnie may have served his time with the second-team offensive line.
McKinnie took over with the first offensive line as the team shifted players around to account for the loss of Bobbie Williams, who was given two days off by the team to reduce swelling in his ankle.
The Ravens replaced Williams with second-round pick Kelechi Osemele, who had been working as the starting right tackle the past few weeks. Moving Osemele to guard gave the Ravens the option Michael Oher back to right tackle, which would give McKinnie a shot at earning his starting spot back.
During the first quarter of the first preseason game against the Falcons, the Ravens offensive line struggled and definitely missed McKinnie’s ability to pick up the pass rush. Seeing quarterback Joe Flacco on his back multiple times in the quarter was cause for concern and helped reiterate the need for McKinnie to return to the position the Ravens paid him an additional $500,000 roster bonus to play.
When the Ravens host the Bengals to open the season, it’s figured that McKinnie will be the starting left tackle barring unforeseen circumstances. Even though Michael Oher has played decent at left tackle, if McKinnie is on the field, coach Harbaugh has already said he will only be playing as a left tackle.
Being forced to shift for Osemele isn’t necessarily a bad thing because playing behind a veteran like Bobbie Williams will give him his best chance to see the playing field.
Williams is heading into his 13th year and is clearly dealing with the lasting effects of the brutal wear the NFL has placed on his body. Even though Williams should be effective at guard, chances seem slim that he will be able to start and play all 16 games.
Even though this is a new look for the offensive line during training camp, with the exception of Osemele at left guard, the four other offensive linemen will probably get the start.
My projected Week 1 starting offensive line would go as follows:
LT- Bryant McKinnie
LG- Bobbie Williams
C- Matt Birk
RG- Marshal Yanda
RT- Michael Oher
Keeping McKinnie at left tackle is the best thing for the Ravens and will provide increased reps for the group in practice moving forward as they work on their communication with the veteran Williams.
The team’s recently drafted linemen, Osemele and center Gino Gradkowski, will get a steady dose of action this preseason. However, it’ll likely take an injury or poor performance from one of the above guys for them to see significant action in the starting five once the games count for real.