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What Will Happen With Bryant McKinnie?

Posted Feb 8, 2013

The veteran left tackle is a free agent after an impressive run during the playoffs.

As the Ravens offense ascended during the playoffs, part of the reason was the play of left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

The veteran was inserted into the starting lineup at the start of the postseason, and he helped solidify a line that had gone through a number of tweaks throughout the regular season.

McKinnie’s performance came at the right time for the 11-year veteran, who is now set to become a free agent, and it’s unclear whether he will return to Baltimore next season.

“I think he has a decision to make as to whether he wants to come back and play here,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.

This year was up-and-down for McKinnie, who struggled with his weight in training camp and ended up losing his starting job. He admitted that he wasn’t motivated at times and was frustrated watching from the sidelines for the first time of his career.

But he stepped up his work ethic and showed in the playoffs that he can still play.

“I think the way he played down the stretch against [Colts DE Dwight] Freeney, against [Broncos OLB Elvis] Dumervil and then against [49ers OLB] Aldon Smith, I think it makes a statement for him,” Newsome said.

McKinnie could draw interest from another team that has a hole at left tackle and is looking for a veteran who can step in and play right away.

If McKinnie does leave, the Ravens could turn to their young linemen who gained experience this year like Kelechi Osemele, Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood. All three can play tackle, and Michael Oher is able to play right or left tackle.

“I think the thing that we found out this season is that we have probably about eight or nine offensive linemen with starter potential that were able to go in and play very good football for us,” Newsome said. “We like our young guys.”

Osemele started every game and Reid and Harewood both had opportunities to start at left guard. Rookie center Gino Gradkowski also had a chance to play nearly an entire game in Week 17 when the Ravens rested their starters in the season finale.

Newsome also pointed to the recent hiring of Juan Castillo, who will work as the run game coordinator next year. He was a longtime offensive line coach in Philadelphia, and has already started working with some of the young players on the roster.

“He is known for helping and developing young players,” Newsome said. “So, I feel very good about our offensive line.”

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