McKinnie biggest early-season surprise for Ravens?
It's hard to overstate how important new left tackle Bryant McKinnie was in the Ravens 35-7 beatdown of the Steelers Sunday.
Normally I don't focus on a particular offensive lineman when I'm watching an NFL game. Unless you wear a headset and hold a laminated playsheet in front of your mouth on Sundays in the fall, who does?
About the only time I find offensive linemen fascinating is during meals, because the amount of food these guys inhale is other-wordly.
Having said that, I watched McKinnie a lot during the Ravens win, mainly to see if the big guy was going to collapse with exhaustion from not being in tip-top shape when the Ravens first signed him a few weeks ago.
Instead, he looked solid, even spectacular at times.
Some early observations: maybe he's listed at 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds in your program, but he seems even bigger than that. He's the size of a redwood tree. That 360-pound listing, in particular, needs adjusting. Upward.
If you saw him in the locker room after Sunday's game with his shirt off, you knew he wasn't living on Diet Cokes and salads since his release by the Minnesota Vikings. Not with that gut.
But he's also way quicker than you'd think, too.
On the Ravens' first play from scrimmage, a 36-yard run by Ray Rice that set the tone for the entire afternoon, McKinnie fired off the line and obliterated two Steelers (linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison).
This was the kind of play that gets coaches hooting and high-fiving each other and replaying it over and over again when they break down game film.
John Harbaugh couldn't stop talking about McKinnie and his upside in his post-game remarks.
"We've seen it in practice and he's a very mobile, athletic guy," the Ravens coach said. "I only think he's going to get better. He really wants to do well. He's a very motivated guy. He's a very smart guy. He's very determined.
"I think he wants to be an important cog in this football team. And he's only going to get better, because he's going to get in better shape, and he's really a hard-working guy."
Whew. And that was even before Harbaugh saw the game film.
Yeah, I think the Ravens like their new left tackle just fine so far.
Baltimore Sun photo of Bryant McKinnie by Christopher T. Assaf / Sept. 11, 2011