Friday, December 04, 2009

Yanda's comeback complete

Offensive lineman wins back starting job after tearing three knee ligaments last year

By Aaron Wilson

December 4, 2009

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The return of Marshal Yanda to the starting lineup against the Pittsburgh Steelers was a moment built through countless hours of rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee.

Now, the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive guard has his starting job back as he supplanted Chris Chester on the right side during a 20-17 overtime win Sunday night.

Yanda tore all three major knee ligaments last season against the Indianapolis Colts, including the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament.

Marshal YandaAPRavens offensive lineman Marshal Yanda

“It was a tough road,” Yanda said. “I got hurt last year and you just keep working. It was a significant injury. It was a long road for me. You take it day by day and good things happen. Now, I’m back in the lineup and you just got to keep on pushing.”

Yanda was convinced that he was healthy enough to play a while ago, but didn’t question the coaches’ decision.

With Yanda back in the lineup, his presence injects a physical, nasty nature into the offensive line.

Yanda started twice at right tackle when Jared Gaither injured his neck.

The Ravens rushed for 138 yards against the Steelers’ stout run defense with Yanda back in the lineup.

Yanda is a throwback blocker who grew up on an Iowa pig farm. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound grunt is the personification of blue-collar.

“It’s an attitude where we’re going to get after it,” he said. “We’re going to stay on them and try to drive them into the ground and finish plays. That’s just part of the offensive line is being physical.

“I love that part of the game. I love being physical and getting after guys. Hit guys in the throat, cut them when you have to, do whatever it takes.”

Unlike many other players around the league who suffer a serious injury, Yanda’s work ethic and abilities weren’t forgotten by the coaching staff.

“When guys get hurt in this league, you sometimes forget about them," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They go back and they rehab and they're forgotten about, and in some ways they don't feel like they're a part of the team. But they are and they're around every day, as much as they can be. Marshal has been through that for a whole year, but got back probably from an ACL sooner than most people would, and now he's back in the mix. He really has been all year, and he's starting to play at the same level that he did when he got hurt against Indianapolis last year."

Meanwhile, Chester was utilized in a Jumbo package as an extra blocking tight end against the Steelers.

And he isn’t inclined to question being replaced.

“Obviously I would prefer the opportunity to play all the time,” he said. “It’s their decision. I felt good about the way I was playing. They made a decision to switch Marshal and I. When I get a chance I’m going to continue to block well. It’s more of a strategic thing.

“Marshal and I are kind of interchangeable. They felt it would be an advantage for him to be in there. They thought it would be a better move to put Marshal in there.”

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