Q&A: With OL Coach Steve Loney

Bryant McKinnie's return to the practice and playing field made for a busy week for offensive line coach Steve Loney, who likes what he has seen from McKinnie so far.

Offensive line coach Steve Loney was part of Mike Tice's overhaul of the coaching staff during the early part of the offseason. Loney has 26 years of coaching experience at the college and pro level.

He was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Iowa State from 1995-97 and 2000-01. In 2000, his Cyclones offensive line allowed only seven sacks, the second lowest total in the nation.

Loney also has coached at the University of Minnesota (1998-99), Connecticut (1994), Arizona Cardinals (1993), Colorado State (1989-92), Citadel (1984-86), Morehead State (1979-83), Leavenworth (Kan.) High School (1977-78) and Missouri Western College (1975-76).

Q: How has Bryant McKinnie looked in your early work with him?

A: Good. He came back in better shape than I think many would have expected. I got paranoid when I saw the shape (Kansas City's) Ryan Sims came in (after he ended his holdout) and heard Dick Vermeil's comments. I had these visions of a real nightmare. I think he studied the offense as we had put it in in the minicamp and so there was some recall there. His head's swimming a little bit right now, but I'm excited about how he came in. He's going to have to get into shape by playing football. That's the only way you can get into football playing shape.

Q: What are the biggest areas you and Mike Tice have worked with him in your personal sessions?

A: The biggest challenge he is going to have is in the speed of the game. That's the thing that is going to be the biggest change for him. He hasn't played in 10 months or so (entering the Giants game). Practice will help that. We have to get the defensive line cranked up and coming and doing some things against him. That's probably the biggest thing. Conditioning-wise we have tried to do things in what I call six-second spurts, to where he is really having to exert himself for about six seconds, because that's about the length of a football play and that's what he is going to be faced with on Sundays.

Q: How big of a concern is that for you as a coach that he not be rushed because that can cause long-term damage, right?

A: Yeah, it does. Confidence and everything else, and you don't want to put them in a position where they are set up for failure. You want to put them in a position where they have a legitimate shot at success, and that is our challenge as a coaching staff.

Q: How well has McKinnie been accepted by his teammates?

A: It has been really good. These guys just want to win, and they recognize the fact that Bryant can help us do that. I'm sure that some ribbing will come about, but that will just cost him a free meal is all. But they are happy to have him.

Q: Long-term, what does this mean for the offensive line as far as what it could look like down the road?

A: It gives you added depth and it gives you some flexibility to get your best people on the field. I think that's the thing. When he is completely ready to go, then you are going to have more flexibility in the different combinations you can work with in the offensive line.

Q: Will this cause changes in positions?

A: That's yet to be seen because Chris (Liwienski) is doing a good job at right tackle, and you don't want to cut off your nose to spite your face. Along that same line, Corbin Lacina has battled in there tough at guard. He is in a position that we have got to look at the five best offensive linemen at that point and time and where do they play given who those guys are?

Q: How tough has this season been from an injury standpoint and the absence of players such as McKinnie?

A: I haven't felt guilty in taking a paycheck yet. There is no cruise control, but if you enjoy coaching, which I do, that adds more to your coaching, and I don't get bored in my job. There is a constant challenge out there and we are constantly looking to become better.

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