Many have speculated over the reasons behind the decision to finally move veteran Bryant McKinnie back into the starting lineup, but Newsome painted a clear picture on the team’s rationale leading into their wild-card matchup with the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 6.
McKinnie has started three games and played at an exceptional level, allowing Michael Oher to move to right tackle and rookie Kelechi Osemele to shift inside to the left guard position, but Newsome explains none of that would have happened had it not been for a toe injury suffered in the regular-season finale by the Ravens’ former starting left guard.
“It was just Jah Reid getting injured,” Newsome said. “That was the only thing that precipitated that change.”
Reid was placed on injured reserve with the toe injury, but much evidence suggests the Ravens were leaning toward putting McKinnie in the starting lineup anyway after he and Harbaugh had a long discussion in the final month of the regular season about what needed to happen for the 33-year-old to earn more playing time.
Newsome has heard the criticism surrounding his team’s offensive line, but the general manager sees a bright future with young players such as Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, and Reid. Despite what the executive says, the tackle position will be a clear need to address in the offseason with McKinnie a free agent and Oher entering the final year of his rookie contract.
“We don’t have a poor offensive line anymore in Baltimore,” Newsome said. “We’ve got some good, young talent that I think can play together for a lot of years.”
Reed’s future with franchise
A day after safety Ed Reed announced his intention to continue playing next season, Newsome was asked about Reed’s qualities that might make him an attractive figure to keep in the organization after his playing career is over.
Newsome acknowledged Reed still has something left in the tank, but he did not address his expiring contract.
“Ed Reed is not only a great player, he’s a great leader,” Newsome said. “Ed wants to be a coach, so he sees this as an opportunity to start his coaching career by helping those young players come along. But, the thing about Ed, he doesn’t just talk about it, he goes out and works the way you have to work to get it done.”
The Ravens have a history of keeping former players such as Harry Swayne and O.J. Brigance around as valuable members of the organization, and Newsome envisions a similar role for the future Hall of Fame safety if he’d be interested.
Of course, Reed’s potential departure would figure to complicate that possibility, but the sides will wait to see how the offseason plays out.
“Ed’s still got a lot of football left to play,” Newsome said. “I think we’ll cross that hurdle [when we have to]. It’s important for us to keep players around, but Ed’s got a lot of football [left], and if he decides he wants to do that, I think we can find a way.”
To hear Ozzie Newsome’s entire press conference with the local media, click HERE.