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Marshal Yanda, Lardarius Webb Make Big Difference In Return


The return of Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and top cornerback Lardarius Webb were apparent Thursday night against Carolina.

In their first games of the preseason since coming back from shoulder and knee injuries, respectively, Yanda was paving big holes and Webb quickly got his hands on the ball.

"That was good to see, and those are big pluses for us," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Yanda was particularly noticeable. The projected offensive line got together for the first time this preseason, and helped march the Ravens down the field on their opening drive.

Running back Ray Rice followed Yanda for a 13-yard gain on the first play of the game. The Ravens got into the no huddle and rolled down the field. With second-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Baltimore brought in the jumbo package and Rice skated into the end zone untouched behind Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach.

A week after struggling with blocking, especially with the run, the offensive line was back in a big way early Thursday night.

"He plays with an edge, so I feel like that first drive we had more of an edge," left guard Kelechi Osemele said of Yanda. "Everybody wants to play hard when Marshal's out there. Guys see Marshal finishing, so everybody wants to finish like Marshal does. Whenever he's in there, our level of play increases."

After having shoulder surgery soon after the season ended, Yanda didn't return to practice until two weeks ago. He only started running with the full-team offense Saturday, and is still getting his legs back. Yanda was out of the game before the second quarter.

"The shoulder felt pretty strong," Yanda said. "Obviously, I wish we could have played better as a team, but the shoulder felt good, so that was definitely a plus."

Webb helped stabilize a secondary that had some issues in the first two preseason games. It had a communication breakdown in Tampa Bay, then starting cornerback Jimmy Smith had trouble keeping up with Atlanta's Julio Jones in the second preseason game.

Webb didn't start Thursday night, but came into the game when the Panthers went into their three-wide packages. In limited snaps, he logged three tackles and a pass deflection. Webb broke on a comeback route and nearly was there in time to make an interception.

"I had expectations for tonight. I just wanted the ball," Webb said. "I want to be who I was before out there today. I feel I'm close. I just need to continue to put the work in and be No. 21 again."

Webb said he came out of the game feeling good, with no pain in his surgically-repaired knee.

With the fourth preseason game featuring the backups and bubble players fighting for the last few roster spots, Yanda and Webb may not see action until Sept. 5 in Denver. But at least they got in some game work before the regular season.

"I just wanted to play football again, and when I finally got back out there, it felt like football again," Webb said. "The thing I got most out of it was being out there with the defense, just running around with them smiling and having fun – that's what I got out of it."

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