Left tackle Bryant McKinnies future with the Ravens is unclear after he didnt make it to the practice field for the start of training camp Thursday.
He contacted us through a representative. Hes dealing with an issue right now. I dont really want to speak for him on that. Im going to let him speak for himself on that, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of McKinnie, who apparently is not in Baltimore.
McKinnie, 32, was held out of a mandatory minicamp for conditioning purposes in June, three months after the Ravens gave him a 500,000 roster bonus with the understanding that he would get himself into better shape in 2012. He started every game for the Ravens in 2011 but weighed at least 360 pounds.
He also battled conditioning issues during his nine years with the Minnesota Vikings, before he came to Baltimore.
With McKinnie absent during Thursdays practice, Michael Oher switched from the right side, where he played last year, to McKinnies former spot at left tackle. Harbaugh almost made it sound as if the switch is permanent, an ominous sign for McKinnie, who is due to make 3.2 million in 2012 if he makes the team.
Michael Oher is the left tackle, Harbaugh said, and just for the record, weve always believed Michael Oher is a left tackle here. We were going to put the five best linemen out (on the field) last year and Michael was at right tackle. Im very comfortable with Michael at left tackle. Until further notice, hes a left tackle. My point is weve got to find a right tackle and therell be a heated competition for that spot.
Saying he needs to find a right tackle certainly makes it sound as if the team isnt counting on McKinnie.
But the problem with counting out McKinnie is the Ravens dont have a proven alternative. Second-year tackle Jah Reid, the teams third-round pick in 2011, is out with a calf injury and has never started a game. An undrafted free agent, Jack Cornell, took some snaps with the starters at right tackle Thursday.
Kelechi Osemele, the teams second-round pick in 2012, could step in at right tackle, but hes a rookie and is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of back spasms.
Quarterback Joe Flacco said he hoped McKinnie joins the team soon.
I think its important to have our whole team here, Flacco said. Bryants on the roster and we need to get him here. Hes a good player. We need to get him here, get him running plays, and get him ready for the season, get him in football shape and make our decision from there.
Asked if the issue keeping McKinnie from camp could last a long time, Harbaugh said, In all honesty, I really dont know. We should know more here soon.
Also absent from the practice field Thursday was All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the Ravens highest-paid player after signing a five-year, 61 million contract last September. Harbaugh said the team held Ngata out after he tweaked a hamstring while running the teams pre-camp conditioning test.
Were going to take it slow and make sure hes OK, Harbaugh said.
Two days after he worked out for the Ravens in Baltimore, offensive guard Eric Steinbach signed with the Miami Dolphins Thursday. There was speculation that the Ravens might add Steinbach to the mix of players competing with Bobbie Williams for the starting left guard spot.
The Ravens practiced for two-and-a-half hours in the heat of a 100-degree afternoon. The players wore shorts, shells and helmets.
Practice snapshot: With the offense 25 yards from the end zone, Flacco dropped back, looked right and led receiver Jacoby Jones on a corner route identical to the one Lee Evans ran in the final seconds of the AFC title game. The pass was on the money, and Jones ... caught it.