A year has made a big difference for Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, dramatically improving his standing with the Super Bowl champions.
Last year, McKinnie was taking up residency in coach John Harbaugh's doghouse. The former Pro Bowl blocker wasn't in good enough shape to participate in a series of offseason practices and was instructed to focus on his conditioning.
When McKinnie reported late to training camp after informing the team that he had injured his back during a slip-and-fall at his South Florida home, he didn't initially pass the conditioning test.
After the Ravens restructured his contract before the regular season, McKinnie was replaced at left tackle by Michael Oher before regaining his starting job in the playoffs.
Now it's a much different story for McKinnie after the Ravens re-signed him to a two-year contract worth up to $7 million that includes a $2 million signing bonus, annual $200,000 workout bonuses, a $200,000 reporting bonus each year and a $500,000 roster bonus next year.
The Ravens are happy with how McKinnie has worked this offseason to maintain the conditioning that he improved throughout last year.
“Bryant did a really good job," Harbaugh said. "He moved really well in this camp, as well as he moved at the end of the year last year when he started practicing so well and playing so well.
"He looks healthy, and he will continue to work on his conditioning. He seems to be very committed. Love the way he’s playing and his effort.”
The reporting bonus and workout bonuses should provide motivation for McKinnie, but the 33-year-old seems geared toward proving himself again this season.
The 6-foot-8, 354-pounder has been a regular at offseason practices since rejoining the team.
“Physically, I feel like I’m 26, so that’s a good thing," McKinnie said. "I feel really good this year. I’m moving around pretty well, so I’m pretty happy with that. ... This time last year, I didn’t even participate, so yeah, I definitely feel a lot better in minicamp.
"Right now, I’m more focused so I can have a good year and be the best left tackle in the league. That’s my goal.”
How will McKinnie gauge his success?
"When people turn on film, they’ll just see that I’m dominating, and I just feel that I’m going to do better than everybody else this year," he said.
McKinnie started every game at left tackle during the playoffs as the Ravens' offensive line allowed just six sacks in four games while the offense averaged 410.3 yards of total offense during their Super Bowl run.
After the NFL draft, McKinnie visited the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers prior to reaching a deal to return to Baltimore.
There were times that he wasn't sure if he was going to be back.
“Yes, after the draft, and I started taking a couple of trips to other teams, maybe I’d be somewhere else," McKinnie said. "But luckily I ended up coming back. I always wanted to give the Ravens an option to match whatever other teams offered. So, I would tell my agent to check back to see what the Ravens have going on and we’ll decide from there.”