Bryant McKinnie could fill big hole on line for Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. — Bryant McKinnie saw himself as a Miami Dolphin years ago.

“It’s funny, me and Ed Reed used to make jokes in college and say we’ll come back here and finish our career,” the former University of Miami star said.

“It feels good to be back here and get the chance to play in front of people who saw me play in college and to be able to be in my own bed.”

The 6-foot-8, 364-pound tackle joined the Dolphins on Tuesday, a day after being acquired from Baltimore to help a struggling offensive line.

Minutes after Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was non-committal on where or if McKinnie will play Sunday at New England, the newest Dolphin said he worked at left tackle during his first practice.

“That’s all I ever played,” the 12-year veteran said.

Asked if he ever practiced at right tackle, McKinnie replied: “Never.”

That would indicate McKinnie will be at left tackle with Jonathan Martin moving to the right side, unless the newcomer needs more time to get acclimated. Tyson Clabo would be pushed to the sideline.

The Dolphins line has been largely to blame for Miami’s 26 sacks allowed and averaging just 78.0 rushing yards this season.

Buffalo failed to get to quarterback Ryan Tannehill through three quarters on Sunday, but Clabo was victimized by rusher Mario Williams for two costly sacks late.

General manager Jeff Ireland acquired McKinnie a day after the 26-23 loss, Miami’s third straight defeat after a 3-0 start.

“There’s no emotions involved in this,” left guard Richie Incognito said. “It’s professional sports. There’s always change, there’s always turnover. It’s one of the things where you accept it and move on.”

Martin actually played right tackle last season before this year moving to the left side, where he played in college.

“It’s something I did last year, so I think I’ll be able to do whatever’s asked of me by the team,” Martin said. “In the end, the goal’s winning football games. Whatever’s asked of me, I’ll be willing to do.”

Martin said he and Clabo, who did not speak with the media Tuesday, understood the business of pro football.

“You can approach this two different ways,” Martin said. “You can go in the tank and be one of those guys that bitches and moans and is a cancer in the locker room, or you can be a guy that’s going to go out there, be professional and play as hard as I can.”

McKinnie, who lost his starting job with the Ravens a few weeks ago, was hampered by a knee injury most of this season. Insisting the knee felt “good,” the former first-round pick expressed eagerness to learn the Dolphins playbook.

“There are some similarities from Baltimore and when I was with the Vikings, so some of the things are easy to pick up,” he said. “The wording is probably a little different, but I just try to relate it to something I know already.”

Although he has been involved in several off-field controversies during his career, McKinnie said his partying ways will not be a problem for the Dolphins.

“See, that’s Big Mac during the offseason,” he said. “Bryant McKinnie is the person who comes to work and handles his business. That’s who you’ll get right now.”

Even before joining the Dolphins, McKinnie was friends with two of Stephen Ross’ ownership partners — Venus and Serena Williams.

“(Venus) texted me and said she had a lot to do with the trade,” said McKinnie, who at one time dated the tennis star. “Serena hit me up and said to refer to her as ‘boss’ now.”

Returning to South Florida also means dealing with the Miami heat.

“It’s different,” he said. “It’ll help me get my weight down.”

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.