Ravens reach agreement with veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie

August 23, 2011 | Luke Jones

Uncomfortable with the state of the right tackle position since the start of training camp, the Ravens have made a big — no pun intended — acquisition to help rectify the problem.

Baltimore has reached an agreement with former Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie on a two-year agreement, pending a physical on Wednesday.

“Through the years, we’ve been fortunate to obtain players late in training camp or just before the start of the season who help us win,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a team statement. “A couple of years ago, it was Willie Anderson. Last year, it was Josh Wilson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who each made big plays at the end of games that gave us wins.

“Bryant falls in this category. He’s been a productive player at one of the hardest positions to play, and he has been in sync with Matt Birk when Matt was a Viking. Plus, he has a relationship with Michael Oher and our Miami players. Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] vouch for him as a person and as a player who can help us. I know these veteran players are happy we’re adding Bryant.”

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McKinnie was released by Minnesota at the start of training camp after his weight had reportedly ballooned to nearly 400 pounds and team doctors had concerns with his high cholesterol level. McKinnie finished the 2010 season at a reported 360 pounds before pledging to get in better shape during the offseason.

He was selected to his only Pro Bowl in 2009 and has started all 16 games seven times in his career, including the last two seasons.

The seventh overall pick in the 2002 draft out of the University of Miami, McKinnie has played left tackle his entire career and would presumably be asked to shift to the right side with the Ravens currently looking at rookie Jah Reid and recently-acquired veteran Mark LeVoir as their only starting options.

“Some people look for speed, some people look for youth,” Lewis said in a team statement. “But give me heart, wisdom and the will to play and win the game, and I will take that player on my side any day of the week. That is what Bryant has. I have played against him, and I know from experience how tough he is. He has a proven track record as a winner, and he is a Raven. He is one of us, and I know he will make us better.”

Given the questions surrounding his health and conditioning only a few weeks ago, it would be premature to anoint McKinnie a starter, but he certainly provides the most intriguing option of what’s currently on the 90-man training camp roster.

If McKinnie proves to be in good condition, the Ravens could ponder moving starting left tackle Michael Oher back to the right side and putting McKinnie in his natural position. However, it would appear highly unlikely with less than three weeks until the start of the regular season and only one preseason game remaining after Thursday’s meeting with the Redskins.

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