McKinnie “issue” casts even darker cloud over offensive line

July 26, 2012 | Luke Jones

Looking at the options currently available on the roster, rookie Kelechi Osemele and second-year lineman Jah Reid – who were previously competing at left guard – will likely compete for the starting right tackle job, but both are currently sidelined with minor injuries. Osemele and Reid are both natural tackles, which does ease concerns in a potential competition.

Thursday’s practice featured 2010 sixth-round pick Ramon Harewood working at right tackle with the starting line before he rolled his ankle and missed the remainder of practice. This left undrafted rookie Jack Cornell to assume the spot as the Ravens practiced without full contact in helmets, shells, and shorts.

Harbaugh did offer a favorable report on Williams, who has looked increasingly mobile in this week’s practices as he begins his 13th season in the NFL. The former Bengal has shed weight since the end of last month’s minicamp and has shown no last effects of the fractured ankle that prematurely ended his final season in Cincinnati.

“Bobbie has done a great job,” Harbaugh said. “Bobbie lost about 12 [or] 13 pounds since he came here in June. He passed the conditioning test with flying colors. He looks to be in very good shape. He looks good.”

It appears as though the Ravens will move forward without clear expectations of when – or if – McKinnie will return, but his loss creates a cloudier picture for a unit already looking weaker than it did a year ago after the loss of Grubbs and acknowledging that center Matt Birk is a year older and playing beside a left guard only a couple months his junior.

Though far from a sure thing, McKinnie’s return would make the Ravens feel a whole lot better about their offensive line. Even if you’re willing to take the leap that Oher is ready to anchor the blind side, the chasm it creates on the right side is a scary proposition for an offense already feeling the pressure to take its production to the next level in 2012.

“Bryant is on the roster, and we need to get him here,” said quarterback Joe Flacco, who also praised Oher’s ability. “He is 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.”

As it stands now, you can only wonder if the Ravens will even have a decision to make in that regard.