Preston: Time to question Bryant McKinnie's commitment

Preston shares his observations after Ravens three-day minicamp

June 14, 2012|Mike Preston

Signing running back Ray Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco to contract extensions are no longer the biggest issues facing the Ravens heading into the 2012 training camp.

The Ravens have to find a good offensive line, not the bunch of no-names they paraded around in a three day minicamp which ended Thursday.

Except for left tackle Michael Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda, who were these masked men?

Starting center Matt Birk was a no-show because of a recent surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs, and 2011 starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie didn't participate because the Ravens thought it would be better for him to improve his conditioning instead of practicing.

Huh?

The Birk situation is understandable, but the entire McKinnie episode is strange and you wonder if he is going to be around when training camp opens. Here is a player who has a history of being overweight and struggled with the same problem last season.

He also reportedly has financial problems, yet can't get into good enough shape to participate in minicamp. You have to question his commitment and when a team starts signing veteran offensive linemen and McKinnie gets held out of minicamp, it could be a sign of things to come.

"We will leave that between us. That's something that is an in-house type of thing right now," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh when asked what McKinnie has to do to be on the field the first day of training camp. "Bryant [McKinnie] has done a good job, he's worked hard."

Oher took all of the repetitions with the first team on the left side and performed well. He looked comfortable and confident, especially working with recently signed veteran left guard Bobbie Williams.

The Ravens are solid at right guard with Marshal Yanda, but there are questions surrounding Birk's availability, and the Ravens don't have a legitimate starting right tackle on the roster.

Forget Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood. Harewood plays too high and Reid is slow and stiff.

Ngata overweight?

Nobody over at The Castle is in a panic about Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's weight, but there has to be some concern.

Ngata said he weighs about 345 but he looks anywhere from 365 to 380. Fortunately for the Ravens, Ngata has performed well so there is a certain amount of trust he'll get the weight down in time for training camp next month.

Meanwhile, Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis looks almost as light as he did his rookie season. Lewis said he shed some weight because he wanted to change with the game which has gone pass happy with three and four wide receiver sets.

If he plays at the current weight, Lewis will have a tough time staying healthy through the season. The NFL might be throwing more passes, but Pittsburgh has gone back to being a run-oriented team and both the Bengals and Browns have had success running against the Ravens in recent years.

Rookie receiver impresses

Rookie receiver Deonte Thompson, a free agent out of the University of Florida, had a good minicamp, especially on Wednesday when he blew by cornerback Chykie Brown and several other cornerbacks for long touchdown receptions.

Not only did he show good speed, but strong bursts in running down passes. The knock on Thompson, though, is that he is like former Ravens receiver Justin Harper. He plays well in practice but has hands of stone in games.

Quick feet

The quick feet award goes to quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Chester Stewart.

In quarterback drills, Stewart, a rookie free agent from Temple, is so quick he appears to drop back without any effort. There are times in the team period when Taylor embarrasses some of his teammates with his stop and go moves.

On Thursday, he did a double 360 and would have turned the corner in the opposite direction without a player touching him if a whistle hadn't been blown.

Rainy decisions

The dumb decision award went to Harbaugh for having a practice in a monsoon Tuesday. All coaches want to set a tone and play the "tough guy" mind manipulation game with his players, but it would have been better if the Ravens had signed Noah to a free-agent contract and he started boarding the players two by two.

I wonder if the rainy conditions caused rookie running back Bernard Pierce hurt his leg Tuesday.

Hmmmm……

Upshaw shows improvement

In only a short time, first round pick Courtney Upshaw has improved technically in working on leverage and being able to set the edge outside against the run.

Also, fellow outside linebacker Sergio Kindle got constant pressure on the quarterback Wednesday and continues to improve even though his movement is still a little stiff.

But early signs are good for the Ravens.

Odds and ends

Second-year receiver Torrey Smith has a strong work ethic. He doesn't chatter a lot in practiceand is always working on something to improve. He was a surprise in minicamp because he is already much improved from a year ago. And yes, he caught more passes with his hands than his body. ... The Ravens signed veteran center Tony Wragge earlier this week, but he struggled snapping the ball out of the shot gun Thursday. In the last two days of practice, the Ravens had a high number of passes tipped without Flacco participating. ... If you were hoping the Ravens tossed the 2-yard pass play to the fullback heading to the sideline out of the playbook, you might have to wait until 2013. It's b-a-c-k……

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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