The NFL announced what Bryant McKinnie and the Vikings knew was a possibility for the last several months – he will be suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. In September 2006, McKinnie signed a seven-year contract extension that could have been worth about $50 million with more than $18 million in guarantees.
The suspension starts on Saturday, according to a statement issued by the NFL making the announcement.
The suspension stems from a fight outside a Miami nightclub. McKinnie was charged with four crimes, including felony assault. If he doesn't appeal the suspension, it would end a streak in which he has played in 88 straight games and started 87 straight – since ending his holdout in his rookie year. Both of those marks are the longest among active Vikings.
Ever since Week 5 of the 2007, the Vikings have had the same starting five on their offensive line, but Artis Hicks will take over in McKinnie's absense.
"Artis is a special guy that can go inside and out," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said at the start of training camp.
Hicks started the 2007 season as the starting right guard, but he lost that job to Anthony Herrera.
"Aris has always been a natural left-side guy," Bevell said this week. "We tried to stick him on the right side, but that's where he's a natural. He's done a great job stepping in there at tackle and we haven't had to worry about him."
Hicks has started 49 NFL games with the Philadelphia Eagles and Vikings.
The Vikings have never seemed quite as worried about the looming suspension of left tackle Bryant…