Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Bryant McKinnie in the Miami spotlight
By James Walker
DAVIE, Fla. -- New Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie knew the questions were coming. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was just grilled for several minutes about McKinnie's past and partying reputation, and now it was McKinnie's turn to face the media.
McKinnie made his Dolphins debut in practice on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Miami pulled off a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Some view this as a desperate move for the Dolphins, who have lost three in a row. Some view it as an upgrade over embattled offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, who has allowed eight sacks.
Either way, the Dolphins have preached high character and accountability for nearly two years under Philbin. The acquisition of McKinnie, based on his past, goes against many of those principles.
Most recently, McKinnie was involved in a party bus incident with former Ravens teammate Jacoby Jones and quickly fell out of favor in Baltimore. There is also the "Love Boat" incident with the Minnesota Vikings and once being sent home from the Pro Bowl.
Miami is a town with a lot of entertainment options. McKinnie also is a full-time resident of South Florida. Although McKinnie's actions will be watched closely with the Dolphins, he says he will not cause any waves.
"That's when I'm off," McKinnie said of his partying reputation. "See, that's 'Big Mac' during the offseason. Bryant McKinnie is the person who comes to work and handles his business. That's who you'll get right now."
Philbin's news conference was mostly about McKinnie on Tuesday. Philbin dodged as much as he could. He wouldn't even say whether McKinnie would play left or right tackle, but McKinnie confirmed to the media that the left side is all he has ever played in games or practice.
McKinnie and Philbin chatted Tuesday in an effort to get on the same page.
"I'm concerned about what he does in this building," Philbin said. "I don't mandate what people do outside the building. I enjoy my free time when I have free time. I expect [McKinnie] to be a professional just like I expect all the other guys."
On the field, McKinnie has the potential to improve Miami's offensive line. Last year McKinnie helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl as the starting left tackle.
Offensive tackle is a huge issue for the Dolphins. Clabo is expected to be benched whenever McKinnie gets up to speed and learns the new offense. Clabo remained with the first team during the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday.
But the Dolphins hope to have McKinnie in at left tackle sooner than later. Chances are it won't happen Sunday against the New England Patriots, but Miami's Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals is a possibility.
"Pretty soon. I'm just getting the plays down and everything," McKinnie said of getting ready. "Today is my first day. So I'm getting to a point where I feel comfortable. Then, I guess it's up to the coach when I'm ready to go out."
It will certainly be an interesting 10 games for McKinnie in Miami. The Dolphins are counting on McKinnie to solidify the blindside pass protection for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which is a very important position.
At 34, McKinnie -- a former University of Miami star -- finally returns to South Florida at the tail end of his career.
"It's funny, me and Ed Reed used to make jokes in college saying we would come back here and finish our careers," McKinnie said. "I kind of spoke it into existence for me."