New Dolphins lineman Bryant McKinnie explains his party personality

Bryant McKinnie, on his first day as a Dolphin, tried to explain his reputation as a party guy: ‘That’s Big Mac in the offseason.’

10/23/2013 12:00 AM

10/23/2013 12:42 AM

Bryant McKinnie is a 21st-century Jekyll and Hyde.

But instead of flipping personalities at night, McKinnie’s transformation comes in the offseason.

At least that’s how the mammoth offensive tackle tried to explain away his laundry list of off-field issues on his first day as a Miami Dolphin.

McKinnie, acquired from the Ravens via a rare in-season trade Monday, acknowledged that he has got a reputation as a notorious South Beach party guy — but with a caveat.

“That’s when I’m off,” McKinnie said Tuesday. “See, that’s Big Mac in the offseason. Bryant McKinnie is the person who comes to work and handles his business. That is what you’ll get right now.”

What McKinnie failed to mention: some of his most infamous misdeeds — including, most recently, his birthday bus incident — came during the season.

But factual quibbles aside, McKinnie made one thing clear Tuesday: The Dolphins’ usually on-message locker room is about to get a lot more interesting.

Meeting with reporters Tuesday, McKinnie addressed a range of issues, including his mending knee and the NCAA’s light sanctions against his Miami Hurricanes (“I’m happy for them,” he said).

McKinnie even dropped a one-liner about playing for former love interest Venus Williams — who is a Dolphins minority owner.

“Yeah, she texted me and said she had a lot to do with the trade,” he said, grinning broadly. “And then Serena hit me up and said refer to her as boss now.”

The real question: Can his true boss — Joe Philbin — keep Employee No. 78 in line?

On Tuesday, the Dolphins’ straight-laced, no-nonsense coach tried his best to duck the topic altogether — with limited success.

When asked about McKinnie’s much-publicized background — which includes a brawl in front of Miami’s Club Space and a trip on the Vikings’ infamous love boat — Philbin repeated a familiar line.

Philbin said he expects anyone associated with the Dolphins to represent the organization the right way, on and off the field. But, Philbin added, he has made no demands on how McKinnie should spend his evenings.

“I don’t mandate what people do outside the building,” Philbin said. “I enjoy my free time when I have free time. We expect him to be a professional, just like we’d expect anyone.”

The Dolphins need McKinnie to show personal restraint. Their season could depend on it.

The Dolphins’ plan is to play him at left tackle as soon as he is up to speed with the system. McKinnie has never practiced — let alone played — at any other position, he said Tuesday.

When he’s ready — this week or next — Jonathan Martin will move from left tackle to right, and Tyson Clabo will head to the bench, shaking up an offensive line that has allowed 26 sacks in five games.

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

“My mind-set is that I’m still going ... to do whatever I can do help the team win.”

Clabo, meanwhile, was not made available for comment Tuesday.

If focused and healthy, McKinnie has proved he would be an upgrade. He helped shore up the Ravens’ offensive line late last season, keeping Joe Flacco upright during the team’s Super Bowl run.

However, he has struggled with weight throughout his career — saying Tuesday he needs to drop about 10 pounds — and had his knee drained multiple times this fall.

Philbin said he believes McKinnie can physically withstand the rigors of the final 10 games of the season — and possibly more, should he help spark another playoff run.

And if that happens again, Big Mac can really cut loose.

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