Bryant McKinnie stays in shape to get it done for Ravens…

I need to apologize to both Bryant McKinnie and the Ravens for nicknaming McKinnie “Moby Grape” when he was signed by the Ravens last season….

McKinnie is trimmed down and disciplining himsef weight-wise as a dedicated Ravens professional… and that is a healthy decision for both the offensive tackle and the Ravens.

McKinnie and the Ravens are closely monitoring his weight this offseason. The 32-year-old veteran is the only player of his experience level participating in the Ravens’ voluntary offseason strength and conditioning program. The larger goal is for McKinnie to get back to his Pro Bowl level of 2009. Asked if he could  ccomplish that, McKinnie said “Yeah, that’s why I’m here.”

McKinnie was released by the Minnesota Vikings last offseason after reports that he arrived at training camp weighing close to 400 pounds. He said he kept in shape until about last May, when he lost focus with no end to the lockout in sight. He turned to his second passion and career of music production, which meant he started eating the wrong foods at the wrong times and missing workouts. This year, McKinnie said he has somebody else running the studio.

McKinnie met with Ravens coaches in mid-March before the team reportedly picked up his roster bonus. “They just wanted to see what I looked like physically, make sure I didn’t balloon up,” McKinney said with a laugh. “It was important for them to see me here working and for me to take advantage of the time we have in the classroom.”

Coaches asked him what weight he felt was best to get back to his Pro Bowl self, and to have a healthier lifestyle. McKinnie told them 350 pounds. He currently weighs 365, so he’s aiming to drop 15 pounds.

“That would be that perfect weight, because when you get too light people start pushing you around,” McKinnie said. “That would take away my advantage. I felt like from a fatigue standpoint, being able to play at a high level throughout the game, that’s something I want to be able to do. I don’t want to be three-quarters [speed]. Certain games, I felt like I was feeling really good. Some of them I was just beat down.”

McKinnie also feels this offseason will allow him to hone his game. The Ravens signed him on August 24 last year, just a day before their third preseason game. He was immediately thrown into the starting left tackle spot. McKinnie said he never really had time last year to work on his technique. He was playing catch-up for much of the season.

“I was learning everything. I was learning people’s names here, learning the offense. It was just a lot at one time,” he said. “I was kind of free styling [in games] a little bit from stuff I knew. Now I have time to get in and practice.”

The 11-year veteran said the coaches also want him to step into more of a leadership position on the line, including tutoring second-year tackle/guard Jah Reid and now tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele. They want him to share techniques with his coaches too.

The 6-foot-8 McKinnie can be dominant. He was the only new addition on the line last year, and the Ravens cut down on sacks and rushed for more yards. He’s also durable, starting all 16 games in eight of the past nine seasons.

“Everything last year was a learning experience,” McKinnie said. “Now that I’ve been through it, I’m ready.”

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.