Left tackle Bryant McKinnie plans to report to Ravens training camp Monday after missing the first three practices. He told the Carroll County Times that he fell at his South Florida home, injuring his lower back.
"I’m kind of disappointed," McKinnie said. "I’ve been training hard, I’ve been boxing and doing all this stuff. To have a setback like this is disappointing. Why isn’t anybody saying I got hurt? I don’t know what people thought was going on. How I got hurt is running out of the house. It was slippery and I fell and hurt my lower back. You can’t be playing football when your back is hurting. When I fell, I said, ‘I know I ain’t going out like this.’”
There's no guarantee that this means McKinnie will be on the practice field Monday. McKinnie, who has struggled with his weight, would have to pass the team's conditioning test.
McKinnie should feel very lucky that the Ravens didn't have the salary-cap room to bring in an experienced tackle this offseason. If the Ravens had found a viable replacement (they reportedly brought in Eric Winston before he signed with the Chiefs), they would have released McKinnie before giving him his $500,000 roster bonus in March.
The Ravens have little patience with players who aren't reliable (ask Jared Gaither). So, are the Ravens thinking of releasing McKinnie now? Team officials have to be tempted to wash their hands clean of this mess. But they also understand the big picture (or really big picture in McKinnie's case) and realize McKinnie is their best option at this point.
Though no one expected McKinnie to be a no-show, this latest issue with McKinnie really shouldn't come as a major surprise. He basically ate himself off the team with the Minnesota Vikings in last year's training camp, and the desperate Ravens picked him up after Ray Lewis and Ed Reed vouched for him.
McKinnie had an average 2011 season and told team officials in March that he would get in better shape this year. A rocky offseason continued when the team kept him off the practice field for mandatory minicamp last month so he could focus on conditioning.
Now, he is being fined $30,000 per day for his absence. McKinnie didn't even call the Ravens, and instead had his chiropractor call the team before missing the first full-team practice Thursday. He told the Carroll County Times that he could begin practicing this week. “I think I could be back on the field soon,” he said. “It don’t hurt like it did when I first did it.”
The Ravens will probably put him on the Non-Football Injury list, so they don't have to pay him for an off-the-field injury if he can't return. McKinnie's absence has caused the Ravens to think of moving forward without him. "Until further notice, he's the left tackle," coach John Harbaugh said of Michael Oher after McKinnie failed to report last week.
There's been rumblings that Baltimore will release McKinnie. The Ravens probably want to do it. I just don't see them cutting McKinnie because they really doesn't have a lot of choices right now. Oher has shown that he can get through a season at left tackle, but the Ravens don't have someone to plug in on the right side. Jah Reid (calf) is hurt, and Kelechi Osemele is projected to play guard. The top free-agent left tackles available (Marcus McNeill and Chad Clifton) are dealing with health issues.
That's why the Ravens will probably stick it out with McKinnie for the next six months, albeit begrudgingly.