How's this for a welcome-to-Baltimore moment for Jason McKie - just a day after signing with the Ravens, he was in meetings and practices in preparation for a game against the Ravens' arch rival which could very well decide the AFC North title.
"Good time to come in and try and help contribute," McKie said today with a smile.
McKie, who the Ravens signed yesterday to add depth at fullback behind the injured Le'Ron McClain, has been out of work since the third preseason game this season when he was cut by the Saints. The nine-year veteran spent his previous seven seasons with the Bears, and he'll bring experience and a physical presence to the Ravens as they prepare for the Steelers.
"You know, just working out every day, trying to stay in shape, it gets old after a while," McKie said. "Just to have another opportunity to get on with a great team, a bunch of great guys here, a lot of great players, great coach, it's a good opportunity for me. I just want to come here and contribute any way I can."
How much McKie contributes this week will depend on McClain's status. The Ravens' two-time Pro Bowl fullback suffered a sprained ankle against the Bucs on Sunday, and he was walking with a limp around the Ravens' locker room today.
McKie says that if the Ravens need to call on him this Sunday night against Pittsburgh, he'll be ready to go.
"If that's what they need me to do, I'm ready," McKie said. "I've been staying in shape. I'm just anxious to play football, and like I said before, whatever I can do to help the team continue to win, I'm willing to do that."
McKie said that he has a lot to learn in a short time as he tries to pick up the Ravens' play-calls and terminology, but he hopes that it will start to translate into the schemes he's familiar with from previous seasons. He's been spending a lot of time with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who has been trying to walk him through the formations and get him acclimated to how the Ravens do things.
At 5-11, 247 pounds, McKie packs a punch, and knows what he brings to the table.
"Just hard-nosed blocking," he said. "I've been doing that for years in Chicago. Seen a lot of defenses, played against almost every team in the NFL, so hopefully I can help out as far as veteran leadership. I know they've got a lot of veterans here already, but I guess you can't have too many. I just want to come in and be a positive influence on the team."
As for being a part of Ravens-Steelers right away, McKie says he's excited to be a part of one of the top rivalries in the league.
"Oh yeah, I've seen it for years. How could you not?" McKie said. "Every year they play, they're some of the top two teams in the AFC. We played [the Steelers] last year in Chicago and had a lot of success against them, so I'm fortunate to have played against them. It brings a lot of familiarity. I think it's going to be a great game."