OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ravens coach John Harbaugh is reaping some health benefits with the return of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda.
“Seeing him out there doing individual drills was good for my blood pressure,” Harbaugh said.
Yanda participated in individual drills during the team’s two-day, joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams. Yanda won’t play in the Ravens-Ravens preseason game Thursday night, saying it will likely take three weeks to get into game shape. He could be held out of the three preseason games as a precaution, but said he plans to be ready for Baltimore’s opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 9.
When he does return, the Ravens will rely heavily on Yanda to anchor the offensive line after he missed the final 14 games last season with a fractured ankle. He also sat out the early part of training camp following shoulder surgery.
“It’s exciting being back out there,” Yanda said Wednesday shortly after the teams concluded their final practice. “I definitely missed it last year. I’m just taking it one day at a time. But I am feeling great and am definitely on schedule.”
One of the goals for the Ravens this offseason has been to solidify the offensive line. Quarterback Joe Flacco needs more time in pocket to be effective and he should benefit with Yanda back in the starting lineup, according to Harbaugh. Flacco was sacked 27 times last season and the Ravens had the 29th-ranked passing attack in the league.
James Hurst had been filling in at right guard while Yanda has been sidelined.
“Marshal makes a big difference in our offensive line,” Harbaugh said. “What’s the exponential number? What’s the percentage better? A lot. . I’m happy to see it, and I just want to keep seeing him get better.”
While Yanda has been durable throughout his career, he knew the ankle injury against Cleveland in Week 2 was going to have a long-term impact. He then injured his shoulder lifting weights in the offseason.
“It was tough last year because I couldn’t fight through that one,” said Yanda, who is entering his 12th NFL season. “It was kind of a bang-bang injury and I was done for the year. Injuries are part of football. I’m excited to get back this year and I’m ready to roll.”
Yanda, 33, has played in 146 games, including 135 starts, which ranks as the second-most games played among offensive linemen in Ravens history behind Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden (177). Yanda was named the league’s top offensive lineman in the league in 2016 by Pro Football Focus when he didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit that entire season.
Despite the recent spate of injuries, Yanda is confident he can still make a big impact with the team.
“I definitely have a lot left in the tank and that fire is still there and burns,” Yanda said. “I want to get back out there and play. That desire to play definitely kept me rolling. I am definitely excited to play this fall.”
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