Looming large above every other player inside the bubble this morning was the newest Miami Dolphin, veteran offensive tackle
One day after being acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in a trade, McKinnie was getting himself acclimated to the zone blocking scheme being run by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and offensive line coach Jim Turner. He was inactive for Baltimore’s last two games after starting at left tackle in the first five but seems eager to make a fresh start with the Dolphins.
“It feels good to be back here and be able to get a chance to play in front of people who saw me play in college – and to be able to be in my own bed,” said McKinnie, who made two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 and 2009. “I’m just getting the plays down and everything because today was my first day. To the point where I feel comfortable then I guess it’s up to the coach when he feels like I’m ready to go out there.”
This is McKinnie’s 12th season in the National Football League and he has started 152 of the 169 games he has played in over his career. He was a first-round draft pick (7th overall) of the Vikings back in 2002 after leading the Hurricanes to the 2001 national championship and spent his first nine seasons in Minnesota.
McKinnie, who won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best offensive lineman as a senior at Miami and was a consensus All-American, captured his first Super Bowl ring last season with the Baltimore Ravens in his third season with the team. His veteran leadership, physically imposing size and intelligence are among the key assets Head Coach Joe Philbin is looking to take advantage of.
“He’s got good anchor, he gets good movement at the point of attack, he plays hard and I think he can potentially help us,” Philbin said. “We’re just getting used to watching him and studying him and we’ll take a look at the tape and we’ll see.”
The Ravens ran more of a power blocking scheme on offense, but neither Philbin nor McKinnie seemed too concerned about there being any difficulty with the transition. Philbin pointed out after watching a lot of Baltimore’s tape that there are some similarities in the plays being run by both teams and the frequency with which they use six-man and seven-man protections.
McKinnie is not lacking in confidence, and having gone his entire high school and collegiate career without giving up a sack validates that approach. His two seasons with the Hurricanes were even better and of course he has gone on to have a long and productive NFL career, so he feels more than capable of adjusting to Miami’s terminology.
“There are some similarities from Baltimore and when I was with the Vikings,” McKinnie said. “So some of the things are a little easier to pick up and the wording is just probably a little different, but I just try to relate it to something I knew already.”
Chemistry on the offensive line is something that takes time to develop, but four of the Dolphins’ starters up front acknowledged the positive that McKinnie’s addition brings. It’s a relatively young group, led by third-year center
So Incognito appreciates having another veteran presence in the offensive line meeting room to share his experiences, while Pouncey, Jerry and Martin intend on picking up as much as they can from him.
“I’ve watched him on film since I got in the league,” said Martin, who started 12 games last season at right tackle, four at left tackle and the first six this year at left tackle. “He’s a veteran player, a long-time player and brings a lot of talent to the table. He’s a guy that I think I can learn from and I think he definitely makes us a better team.”
Incognito got to do some individual drills alongside McKinnie during today’s practice and was impressed with what he saw physically.
“He’s a big guy with long arms and a good athlete for his size,” he said. “That’s the first thing that jumps out at you is he’s a big dude, he moves really well and he’s light on his feet. He’s played a lot of football in this league and I’m looking forward to playing with him, getting him in there, getting him some reps and getting him used to kind of playing and getting into the flow.”
Even though it is the middle of the season and Miami is in the midst of a tough stretch of division games that continues Sunday at the New England Patriots, McKinnie knows he can make an impact in a number of different ways. Having won that Super Bowl and enjoyed longevity at such a physically demanding position, he wants to give back.
“I’m getting to know everybody but from the things I’ve been through I feel like I can contribute as far as experience and help out everybody,” McKinnie said. “It’s funny, me and Ed Reed, we used to make jokes in college and say we would come back here and finish our career but I kind of spoke it into existence for me.”
THIS AND THAT
In order to get his jersey number, McKinnie had to wrest it away from
MONDAY MUSIC MADNESS
Hip-hop was the theme for McKinnie’s first practice today, with Snoop Dogg’s “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” starting things off during the stretching period. “All Me,” by Drake featuring 2 Chainz and Big Sean was the second and final song before the players split up for individual drills and the rest of the team drills.
THE LAST WORD
“It’s just another great addition to the team that can help the offense out a little bit more and it’s another ‘Cane. It’s my first time meeting the guy, met him earlier today and it’s all about moving forward but it’s good to have three guys from ‘The U’ in the locker room.” – defensive end