Pierce primed for big season behind Rice
EARLY BIRD: August 1, 2013. A new month that will bring the Ravens closer to the Sept. 5 regular season-opener in Denver.
Two-minute topic: Why the Ravens need left tackle Bryant McKinnie to get in shape by Week 1, and why he’s so important.
Owings Mills, MD – When McKinnie became the starting left tackle, it was one of the keys to the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. Think about it. McKinnie didn’t start a game during the regular season, then stepped into the lineup and played four stellar games protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side.
That takes talent. Now the Ravens want to see more commitment.
Slowly, McKinnie is working his way back into shape. “Bryant gets better every day,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.
“He made it through the whole practice. I thought he looked good at the end of practice. He still has a little ways to go, but he’s doing a nice job.”
The Ravens want McKinnie to be the starting left tackle from Week 1 through Week 16. They believe the offensive line could be one of the team’s strengths, if McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele (LG), Marshal Yanda (RG) and Michael Oher (RT) are locked into place, with either Gino Gradkowski or A. Q. Shipley as the starting center.
The Ravens don’t want to shuffle their offensive line as much as they did last season. It hurts the unit’s cohesiveness, and the Ravens already know where the pieces fit together best. McKinnie and Osemele work effectively together on the left side. Yanda, still recovering from shoulder surgery, is one of the best right guards in the NFL. And Harbaugh believes that Oher has Pro Bowl potential as a right tackle.
“The sky is the limit for Michael,” Harbaugh said. “The fact that he can settle down on the right side now is probably something that will help him have the chance to achieve that.”
With the season-opener still a month away, McKinnie has time to get himself ready. But the Ravens will be watching, and hoping that he does.
“We want our offense to run a certain way,” Harbaugh said. “We want to be fast, and we want to be aggressive, and we need all of our guys to be able to move the right way. We want Bryant at his best, and he wants that, too.”