Ravens begin minicamp without McKinnie, Birk

The Ravens opened up their mandatory minicamp Tuesday afternoon without two starters from their offensive line. Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and center Matt Birk were not on the rain-soaked practice field, though head coach John Harbaugh said their absences were excused.

McKinnie was held out of practice due to concerns about his conditioning, but he was inside the practice facility. Meanwhile, Birk had surgery to have varicose veins fixed in his legs, something that has been on his plans since the end of last season but wasn’t taken care of until last week.

“Bryant McKinnie is a guy that we held out just for conditioning purposes,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to probably continue to do that [during the minicamp] and continue to try and get him in good shape. I think practice-wise, he’s just as well doing the conditioning part of it.”

When the Ravens picked up McKinnie’s roster bonus in March, it was made clear to the 6-foot-8 tackle that they wanted him in better shape this season. He was a regular during the offseason program and attended two of the three organized team activities open to media. But the coaching staff feels he would be better served doing conditioning work Tuesday than practicing.

Birk wasn’t allowed to fly this week to attend minicamp, but he will be ready for training camp.

“He’s got those veins. He had to get those cleaned up,” Harbaugh said. “We tried to get it done earlier and we could not get it done earlier for whatever the doctor’s reasons there were.”

Michael Oher took McKinnie’s place at left tackle, and Jah Reid, who missed time during OTAs with a back injury, returned to man the right tackle spot for the first-team offense. Veteran Bobbie Williams, who agreed to a two-year deal on Friday, was at left guard. With Birk out, rookie Gino Gradkowski was often plugged between Williams and right guard Marshal Yanda.

On Tuesday, the Ravens also announced that they had signed 32-year-old center Tony Wragge, who started eight games for the St. Louis Rams last season. He also started 10 games at right guard for the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. To make room for Wragge on the roster, the Ravens released defensive lineman Elliott Henigan, an undrafted free agent from Alabama-Birmingham.

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