Thursday, September 16, 2010

Could Yanda stick at right tackle?

By Dan Kolko

September 16, 2010

Back in training camp, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was asked if Marshal Yanda was an option as the Ravens' right tackle with Jared Gaither out with a back injury.

Here was Cameron's response: "Absolutely, but you can move guys around too much. I think Marshal Yanda can be as good a right guard as there is in the league. I believe that. And if you keep bouncing him around from guard to tackle, guard to tackle, it really doesn't help him."

Sure enough, when the Ravens took the field against the Jets in the regular season opener on Monday night, Yanda got the start at right tackle, and Chris Chester slid in and played right guard.

The coaching staff went with that rotation over one that would have featured a slightly banged up Oniel Cousins at tackle and Yanda at his normal right guard spot.

The decision (insert your Le'Bron James jokes here) was a good one.

While Yanda was semi-responsible for the crushing hit that quarterback Joe Flacco took on the Ravens' opening play of the game (Flacco deserves some of the blame himself for holding the ball too long), he bounced back, and played pretty well against an aggressive and physical Jets front-seven.

Chester held tough as well, and the Ravens' offensive line as a whole allowed only two sacks all game.

"I thought they did really well, just watching the tape," head coach John Harbaugh said of Yanda and Chester. "There were plays that we'd like to have back all the way across the front. And again, that's a really good front. Those guys practiced there for about a week-and-a-half for the most part, so I think they're ready to do it, but there's nothing like a game to learn from."

Asked if the Ravens consider Yanda a long-term option at right tackle with Gaither still ailing, Harbaugh responded to the affirmative.

"Yes, yes, we do," he said simply.

Yes, the Ravens would prefer to keep Yanda at guard and let him establish himself at that position. But the four-year veteran has more game experience than Cousins at right tackle, is more dependable, and isn't as injury prone.

We might see Cousins work his way back into the rotation at some point, but for now, with Gaither still out, Yanda is the Ravens' best option at right tackle.

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