A discussion with Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie
The Baltimore Ravens are moving into the 2013 season as the defending AFC and Super Bowl Champs. Such titles bring with them a myriad of expectations and challenges. Sportsrageous.com had to opportunity to speak with offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie to get his take on the expectations, the keys to another super bowl run and a new look Baltimore team this season.
Sportsrageous.com: After spending time in Minnesota and Baltimore what ultimately made you decide to stay with the Ravens?
Bryant McKinnie: I like being with my teammates here in Baltimore and just how close it is to my home in New Jersey.
SR: What is the biggest obstacle for this Ravens to repeat as Super Bowl champions this season?
BM: Just knowing that we have to come in with our A game every week. We know people will be coming at us with their best in every game. We have to be prepared every week because people are going to want to beat us.
SR: How is the attitude around the organization changed without the presence of Ray Lewis and other former Raven veterans?
BM: Its been cool so far, new guys are stepping up and the other veterans on the team have come into leadership roles so it’s been good so far.
SR: After helping the team to a Super Bowl Championship, what is your main focus moving into training camp?
BM: Just working on being in the best condition I can possibly be in is my focus and working on my technique to get better everyday and help the team win anyway I can.
SR: You matched up with Dwight Freeney, Aldon Smith and Von Miller among others in the AFC playoffs very successfully last season, what will be the key to your continued success against other top defensive linemen this season?
BM: I think the key will be working on my fundamentals and my technique again will be my focus to get through a lot of different obstacles that will come up during the season. And that’s something I am working on in training camp.
SR: Has the absence of longtime teammate Ed Reed changed things for you moving into this season?
BM: Not really. Me and Ed have been teammates for a while in college and then he asked me to come here from Minnesota, but I don’t think it has changed anything for either one of us too much.
SR: How has the offensive line been adapting to the retirement of Matt Birk and the addition of A.Q. Shipley?
BM: Well that is what we are figuring out in training camp, getting the rotations and things together for the season. Loosing Birk will take time to replace but we have been working on all of that in that in camp. We will get it all down before the season starts.
SR: Do you feel added pressure or responsibility to take on a bigger leadership role this season?
BM: No I don’t really feel any added pressure this season. Veterans and other guys have stepped into those roles but I don’t think there isn’t any added pressure this season on anyone.