Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Ravens Pro Bowler came up with the idea to move across the offensive line for his first start at left guard since high school. The move helps him be stronger and protect the injury to his left shoulder.
November 22, 2016
By Ryan Mink
Add this to Marshal Yanda’s tome of tough stories.
With concern that the Ravens’ five-time Pro Bowl right guard could miss the rest of the season because of an injury to his left shoulder, Yanda came up with the idea to flip sides on the offensive line.
Left arm’s hurting? Let’s try the right one.
Yanda started at left guard for the first time in his 10-year career in Sunday’s 27-17 loss in Dallas, and could stay there for the rest of the season. He hadn’t played left guard since high school.
It’s a major development for an offense that has been hampered by a shuffling line this season.
“He felt like it would be better with his situation, with his shoulder to be on the other side, that it would give him the best chance to be strong and stay healthy,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“We said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, let’s try it.’”
In 2011, Yanda played in a game just days after having emergency leg surgery. He played through a torn rotator cuff in 2013. There are probably countless other injuries he’s played through without the media or public knowing.
This year, Yanda has been dealing with a left shoulder injury suffered on Oct. 9 when he moved to right tackle to help out when Rick Wagner went down.
Yanda missed the next two games (Week 6 vs. the New York Giants, Week 7 vs. the New York Jets), then came back to face the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers after the bye. He wasn’t well enough to face the Cleveland Browns four days later.
Just the fact that Yanda missed three games speaks to the severity of the injury. He had missed just two games over the previous seven seasons.
“I’m a team guy, and if I can play at a high level and help the team, I’m going to be out there no matter what,” Yanda said last week. “It’s one of those things that I pride myself in and I feel like I owe it to the team. I owe it to the guys in this locker room to be out there if I can.”
Yanda didn’t just prove his grit by taking the field. He played at a high level too.
According to Pro Football Focus, Yanda was still the Ravens’ best offensive player against the Dallas Cowboys with a plus-4.0 grade.
Running back Terrance West ran behind Yanda for an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Yanda fired off the snap, turned and walled off Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain.
“He kind of looked like he’s played it all along,” Harbaugh said. “He didn’t have any problems in there. It was a good move for us.”
Harbaugh said he was wary of the move early in the week, and he kept a close eye on the offensive linemen’s individual drills to see how Yanda would adapt. Yanda looked natural, he said.
But just how hard is that transition?
“I don’t know if it’s quite as drastic as this, but in some ways it’s like you’re a lefty all those years, now you’ve got to go over to the right side of the plate,” Harbaugh said, dropping a baseball reference.
“You’ve got to play golf the other way, you’ve got to play tennis the other way. I don’t think it’s that drastic, but it’s different. You’ve got your other hand down, you’ve got your other foot back, everything is backwards. You’re setting to the left instead of to the right. Everything is flipped.”
At right guard, his inside arm would be with his injured left shoulder. So he would have the most trouble stopping an interior rush, and getting push up inside that way. At left guard, Yanda can rely more on his right shoulder and arm coming off the snap.
“It just shows you what a phenomenal athlete he is and how determined he is,” Harbaugh said. “And really how good a football player he is.”
The good news is Yanda came out of the game healthy and told Harbaugh on Monday that he felt strong. Yanda even got in a weightlifting session Monday morning.
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