McKinnie Looking Forward To Next Year

The veteran left tackle says ‘I feel like I’ll be better next year.’

Posted by Garrett Downing on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing

Bryant McKinnie did exactly what was asked of him this season.

In his first year with the Ravens, the 10-year veteran took over the left tackle spot and started all 18 games.

McKinnie is signed through next season, and he says he’s ready for another year in Baltimore.  

“I feel like I’ll be better next year,” McKinnie said Monday. “I just want to make sure it’s a bright future, so I’m going to prepare myself to do better things next season.”

McKinnie, six-foot-eight, 360 pounds, signed with the Ravens after nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings reportedly cut him over concerns about his weight, but McKinnie shed a lot of that weight when he first arrived in Baltimore and moved into the starting role just two weeks after signing with the Ravens.

McKinnie said he meshed well with his teammates, and was impressed with the leadership in the Ravens’ locker room.

“One thing I can say about this locker room is that there’s a lot of professionals here and they act as a team,” McKinnie said. “There’s no division in here, and I’ve been on teams where you have a little division. This is actually a team and everybody sticks together and acts like brothers. That’s what you need.”

When the Ravens signed McKinnie, Michael Oher moved to the right tackle spot, where he started every game this season and played well.

The Ravens are expected to keep those two in the same positions going into next year and Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda will be back at right guard, but there are questions about other spots on the line.

Left guard Ben Grubbs becomes a free agent this offseason and center Matt Birk is contemplating retirement. Baltimore could potentially lose two of their five starters at offensive line.

Regardless of what happens with the rest of the line, McKinnie said he could see himself in a Ravens jersey for a long time.

“Yeah I could, as long as I stay fresh,” McKinnie said. “I’ve been blessed to be able to make it through 10 seasons without any major injuries and not missing a game, so I’m going to keep fighting and keep going.”

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