Bryant McKinnie's offseason started a little sooner than he wanted. First there was the overtime loss in the NFC Championship Game, which was followed by the Pro Bowl flap in which he was dismissed from the NFC team when he didn't report to practice late in the week.
McKinnie, the eight-year veteran Vikings tackle, made his first Pro Bowl in February, but after missing practices on that Thursday and Friday, he was dismissed from the team. He said he talked to a trainer for the NFC Pro Bowl team on the phone and the two were attempting to meet that Friday evening, but that never happened.
McKinnie was criticized for missing the practices but also being able to send messages to his Twitter account about a party he was attending at a night club that lasted into the morning before his first skipped practice.
When all the dust had settled, McKinnie revealed that he was also dealing with plantar fasciitis, a painful condition in the feet. This week, McKinnie said that ailment is improving.
"I'm still working on it, but it's nowhere near what it was coming out of the season. On Twitter I even said I had to get my feet up, take some medicine like that," the 6-foot-8, 335-pound McKinnie said. "It's a lot better. (The doctor) just told me, ‘Don't walk around bare-footed' or not really supposed to wear slides in there. I'm supposed to get orthodics for my shoes."
McKinnie and guard Anthony Herrera were both at Winter Park on Wednesday to take part in some of the organized team activities (OTAs). Like most of the starting veterans, they joined their younger teammates for stretching and then returned to the building for rehab and weight training.
But, unlike a lot of the other starters who are recovering from injury, McKinnie and Herrera returned to the field later in practice. They participated in some of the team cross-work and blitz segments after the individual technique work was done.
"Individual is more showing technique and I guess they thought we'd been there long enough that we have an idea of how to get the technique part down. Just doing some extra running to get the cardio right," McKinnie said.
McKinnie was asked if he's bulked up or done anything different this year and he joked that a lot of people have asked him that.
"I must look heavier because every day somebody else says that, ‘You look a little heavy,' like the jersey is stretched out," he said.
Truth is, he doesn't look much different than he did one year ago, when he started on his journey to his first Pro Bowl season. But in order to get there, he had to battle through ankle and feet injuries. However, he wasn't alone.
Every starter on the offensive line was dealing with varying degrees of injury that could have knocked them out of action – in addition to McKinnie's ailments, Steve Hutchinson and Herrera were dealing with shoulder injuries, John Sullivan had an ankle problem and Phil Loadholt had shoulder and ankle injuries.
"I know a lot of people took care of the injuries with the offseason too. That's why you see Hutch and Sully in there doing the rehab, the running and lifting stuff," McKinnie said. "As long as everybody's healthy, that's my whole thing."
McKinnie isn't completely healthy yet, but he's hoping to get there and regain the confidence of his teammates.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
McKinnie working through lingering injury
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