Vikings Release Bryant McKinnie
Aug/03/11 08:37 AM Filed in: Bryant McKinnie
MANKATO, Minn. - The state of the Vikings' aging and regressing offensive line was a major story entering training camp. Bryant McKinnie's release Tuesday deepened the intrigue.
The Vikings ran out of patience with McKinnie, the former No. 1 draft pick whose difficulty maintaining a reasonable weight had become an issue with the front office since he arrived in Minnesota last week.
Coach Leslie Frazier is showing his muscle early in his tenure, but with the move comes risk.
A team already facing injury problems up front just gave up one of its most talented, though underperforming, pieces. Despite playing at close to 360 pounds at the end of last season, McKinnie started 131 of 132 games since being selected seventh overall in 2002 and made a Pro Bowl in 2009.
McKinnie told celebrity gossip website TMZ after being released: "I'll definitely be ready for next season. That's not even a question."
McKinnie also told TMZ that he was placed on the reserve/non-injury list Monday after doctors said his cholesterol was too high and he had to lose weight. He spent his two days in camp doing conditioning drills on the sidelines with guard Anthony Herrera, who is rehabilitating from reconstructive knee surgery.
"This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interests of our football team," Frazier said.
“Its been fun,” McKinnie wrote on Twitter.
Ultimately, dealing with McKinnie was no longer fun for Minnesota. He reportedly showed up to camp “extremely” out of shape and overweight, which forced the Vikings to place him on the “NFI” (non-football injury) list. He was due $5.6 million in total pay for 2011 and his play had fallen off quite a bit in 2010.
Recently acquired Charlie Johnson is poised to replace McKinnie at left tackle later this week, although the Vikings might be in the market for more depth.
Fourteen unrestricted free-agent tackles remain on the open market, including Alex Barron from the Cowboys, Sean Locklear from the Seahawks and former Vikings tackle/guard Ryan Cook.
Before making the roster move, Frazier confirmed that Johnson, a former Indianapolis Colts lineman, would start practicing in McKinnie's place Thursday when free agents can start training camp with their new teams.
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