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McKinney ready to fill in for Ngata

With starting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata probably playing just a couple series in the preseason opener Thursday, Brandon McKinney will be one of the first players in line to spell the Pro Bowl lineman.

Even though this is a preseason game, McKinney, who played with the first team defense Monday when Ngata left practice with back spasms, said his approach to the evening won't change.

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"If I'm starting or if I'm filling in for somebody, it's all the same," he said. "I have to keep up that level that's already been set. Stand to the bar that's already been set."

After suffering a herniated disk in his back last season, McKinney says he "feels good" and is having "no problems at all."

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It will be the first time testing his back in under game day conditions, but playing against someone other than his teammates is something the former Michigan State Spartan is looking forward to.

He's "excited about the preseason, to hit somebody else finally," McKinney said. "You don't go through training camp for nothing and just sit around. At least I don't want to do that."

-- Colin Stevens

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