NFL

Tackle Bryant McKinnie joins Dolphins practice

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DAVIE, Fla. (AP)

Bryant McKinnie came out of his stance and lowered his shoulder into a practice squad player, causing a crisp thud to reverberate in the Miami Dolphins' practice bubble.

''That's right,'' offensive line coach Jim Turner hollered. ''Nice short first step.''

The Dolphins hope McKinnie's arrival Tuesday marks a big step in the right direction for a team reeling from pass-protection problems. They acquired the 12th-year pro Monday from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a conditional late-round draft pick.

''He's a heck of a player,'' said tackle Jonathan Martin, whose role likely will be affected by the trade. ''Anytime you bring in a guy like that, it's going to make you better.''

McKinnie might not be ready for Sunday's game at New England, or even the Halloween game against Cincinnati. But barring sudden, dramatic improvement by right tackle Tyson Clabo, McKinnie is expected to move into the starting lineup eventually.

He likely would assume his customary spot at left tackle, with Martin moving from the left side to right tackle as Clabo's replacement. McKinnie practiced only on the left side Tuesday, and while Clabo and Martin remained with the first team, Martin worked some on the right.

''It's a decision the GM and the coaching staff thought they had to make,'' Martin said. ''You can approach this two different ways. You can go in the tank and be one of those guys that moans and is a cancer in the locker room, or you can be a professional and play as hard as you can. My mindset is I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win.''

The 34-year-old McKinnie, who played for the Miami Hurricanes and spends offseasons in South Florida, said he looked forward to helping the Dolphins.

''It feels good to be back here and get a chance to play in front of people who saw me play in college - and to be in my own bed,'' he said.

McKinnie has had off-the-field issues in South Florida in the past, and was involved in the ''Love Boat'' scandal in 2005 while with the Minnesota Vikings. He acknowledged his reputation for partying.

''That's when I'm off,'' he said. ''See, that's Big Mac during the offseason. Bryant McKinnie is the person who comes to work and handles his business. That's who you'll get right now.''

Coach Joe Philbin, who stresses the need for his players to have good character, said McKinnie will be judged on what he does at the Dolphins' complex.

''I'm concerned about what he does in this building,'' Philbin said. ''I don't mandate what people do outside the building. I expect him to be a professional, just like all the other guys.''

The trade means McKinnie now works for his former girlfriend, tennis champion Venus Williams. She and her sister Serena own a small share of the Dolphins.

''Venus texted me and said she had a lot to do with the trade,'' McKinnie said with a laugh. ''And then Serena hit me up and said to refer to her as boss now.''

McKinnie, a Pro Bowl tackle in 2009, lost his starting job after five games this season and was inactive for the first time in his career the past two weeks. He recently had his right knee drained and said it's fine now.

The 6-foot-8 McKinnie, one of the largest players in the NFL, weighed in at 364 pounds and said he hopes to play at about 355. His newly issued No. 78 practice jersey was too small to cover his midsection.

The Dolphins (3-3) are desperate for better pass protection. During their current three-game losing streak, they've given up 12 sacks, and Ryan Tannehill leads the NFL with 26.

McKinnie declined to predict how soon he might play, as did Philbin. But guard Richie Incognito, who was traded by the St. Louis Rams during the 2009 season, predicted McKinnie would be ready for the Patriots on Sunday.

''No question I think he can do that,'' Incognito said. ''I showed up on a Thursday in Buffalo and started Sunday, so it has been done before.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine

Tagged: Dolphins, Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, Ryan Tannehill, Jonathan Martin

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