Tomorrow afternoon, Marshal Yanda will take the practice field for the first time this offseason.
It's a huge development for the stability of Baltimore's offense offensive line and the team as a whole considering the six-time Pro Bowler is one of the Ravens' best players.
Even though Yanda will practice only in individual drills (no team work as he eases in), the 12-year veteran guard told reporters he was "excited" about a dozen times.
"I do [miss training camp]. I do," Yanda said after Sunday's practice. "I missed so much time last year too. I'm excited. I'm excited to get back out there. We just had to wait a certain amount of time, but everything is good now, so I'll be good to go."
Yanda missed nearly all last season after fracturing his ankle in Week 2. While lifting weights this winter, he injured his right shoulder. The ankle has been fine for a while, but the shoulder is what kept him sidelined so far in training camp.
What really hurt this offseason was Yanda's heart. From 2010 to 2016, the hard-nosed grinder missed just five games. He had missed as much time as he did last season.
"It was one of the toughest things I've had to deal with in a really long time – just being away from the team," Yanda said. "Usually I can fight through injuries some way or another, just find a way to play. That one was boom, done. That was a tough deal for me. But I'm excited to be back and I'm looking forward every day."
Yanda has been sitting in on meetings throughout the offseason and coaching up the team's younger offensive linemen (and even the vets). Now he'll focus on getting himself ready to perform at his usual high level by the time the regular season starts on Sept. 9.
Yanda won't practice at all in live reps versus the visiting Los Angeles Rams. He said it's still to be determined whether he'll play in any of the Ravens' four remaining preseason games.
"I feel like I'll have some rust to knock off, but I'll have plenty of time," Yanda said. "We have a month really before we play our first real game. That will be plenty of time for me to get tuned up and get ready to play football."
John Harbaugh Tweaks Practice to Accommodate Rams
The Ravens are prepared for the arrival of the Rams at the Under Armour Performance Center Monday morning as the teams will kick off three days of joint practices before their preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night.
The Ravens have been beginning practice at 8:45 a.m. for more than a week, but will shift the start time to 2 p.m. to accommodate the West Coast Rams as they adjust to the time zone and flight.
Those aren't the only adjustments Head Coach John Harbaugh is making for the Rams and their head coach, Sean McVay.
"Sean led the way with organizing most of the practice," Harbaugh said. "We're kind of going with the Rams' format with the practice generally. It's a great practice format – we love it. So many things that we do are the same."
Harbaugh said he, McVay and their respective coordinators, have had a lot of dialogue on how to organize the practices. They've also agreed that there will be no full tackling or wrapping up opposing players.
"I think the main message is that we treat the Rams like they're the Ravens. The Rams treat the Ravens like they're the Rams," Harbaugh said. "We treat each other as if we're one team because we want to get better for the next three days."
As opposed to when the San Francisco 49ers practiced in Baltimore in 2014, the Rams' home base (locker room, meetings rooms, meals, etc.) will be at a nearby hotel instead of on-premises at the Under Armour Performance Center. Harbaugh said it's "cleaner" that way.
Harbaugh and McVay both played football at the University of Miami (Ohio), though not at the same time, so there is a bit of a connection between the two head coaches.
"I'm very impressed with Sean. Obviously, [I'm] very proud of him being from Miami," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be great to have them in here. We respect them, we appreciate them coming in."
Harbaugh, Yanda Talk About 'Awesome' Ray Lewis' Speech
Harbaugh, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale and seven Ravens players flew to Canton to watch Ray Lewis' induction speech in person.
They took a private flight back immediately after it was over so they could grab some shuteye before an early morning practice Sunday.
"Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti has fast planes," Harbaugh said with a laugh. "Players asked me if I had a private plane. I said, 'Yeah, it has a big Southwest [logo] on the side and it'll take me anywhere in the world.'"
Despite the lack of sleep, Harbaugh and Yanda, who was in attendance with other Ravens who played with Lewis (plus C.J. Mosley), said the experience was incredible.
"It was pretty impressive last night," Harbaugh said. "I don't think there's really words. You see it on TV, but the feeling of being in the middle of it – especially where we were sitting with the family – was indescribable and unforgettable."
"That was awesome," Yanda said. "That was a really cool experience to see that in person and be a part of it."
Harbaugh was also impressed with all the Ravens fans that were in attendance. He said it was a good thing the Ravens contingent entered the stadium between speeches because the roar from the crowd would have been a disruption.
"The Ravens fans – they were in full force," Harbaugh said. "To drive all that way, to spend money on gas and hotel rooms and food and everything, to be there to celebrate Ray and celebrate the Ravens was awesome."