Ravens Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is used to treating injuries like a mosquito. Swat at it and keep moving. He’s done it countless times over his 11-year career.
So when Yanda’s ankle turned and snapped under a Cleveland Browns defensive lineman on Sept. 17 last year, his brain immediately jumped to how he could play through it. That is until about 15 minutes later when a team doctor confirmed it was broken and his season was over.
Yanda said that was one of the toughest professional moments he’s ever gone through. He had never missed that many games in a season. And it only got worse from there.
Just as Yanda’s ankle felt better in December, he tore his rotator cuff while lifting weights and opted for surgery. That set him back yet again and held him out of all offseason practices until this week.
Yanda has had three shoulder surgeries. He’s coming off the broken ankle. He’s now 33 years old.
Does it reach a point where he asks himself how many more years, injuries and rehabs he has left in him?
“No, missing last year definitely gave me a lot of fire and desire to play this year,” Yanda said. “I definitely have a lot left in the tank. That fire is still there, and it burns hot.”
Yanda returned to the practice field Monday as a limited participant. It didn’t matter that there was a 101-degree heat index; Yanda was one happy camper.
The Ravens’ offensive line overachieved expectations last year. With Yanda’s return, Baltimore hopes it can take it to another level.
Still, the six-time Pro Bowler has to prove that he can get back to the same level he was at before the injury. He’s been so steady for so long, but at some point everyone starts to fade.
“I feel like this game means more to you every single year that you play,” Yanda said. “There’s nothing else but football as you get older. I feel like that helps me. I understand that it’s a young man’s game, but I’m fighting every single day to be ready to roll and be productive, and I plan on doing that.”
So how many years does Yanda think he has left? The burly Iowa farmer shrugged his shoulders and said he’s taking it one year at a time at this point.
“A general rule of thumb, once you get to 10 years, I feel like you have to reassess and reevaluate,” Yanda said. “I’ll take my time after the season, but right now, I’ll focus on this year and doing my part.”
Tim Williams Is Putting on Pass Rush Show
Second-year outside linebacker Tim Williams is starting to emerge as the pass-rushing demon that starred at Alabama.
According to Pro Football Focus, Williams had 41 pass rushing snaps in the Hall of Fame game against the Chicago Bears. While the third-round pick didn’t get any sacks, he has six hurries and one quarterback hit.
Williams carried it over to the two joint practices against the Rams, and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale took notice.
“I think he’s rushing better now than I’ve ever seen him rush,” Martindale said. “Out there the last two practices against the Rams, he’s put on a show rushing the passer. He’s becoming the player we thought he was going to be when we drafted him.
“He’s going to be a premier pass rusher, I think, in this league.”
Williams still has a lot of competition when it comes to reps, as he’s working with starters Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon and alongside backups Za’Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser and Kamalei Correa. Suddenly, the Ravens could have an embarrassment of riches at pass rusher.
Asked how he plans to rotate them all, Martindale said it will all get sorted out over the next four preseason games. “Football will take care of it,” he said.
The Difference With Kamalei Correa? Confidence
Speaking of Correa, Martindale was asked about what switch flipped for the third-year linebacker.
A 2016 second-round pick, Correa didn’t make much of an impact in his first two seasons, but broke out in Canton with three sacks, an interception and forced fumble.
Correa seemed to hesitate a bit more at inside linebacker last year. He didn’t “pull the trigger,” as a reporter described Tuesday.
“He sure did the other night!” Martindale said with a laugh. “I think the move outside has built some confidence in him, but, if you notice, he was still playing inside and outside.”
Martindale said the biggest factor is confidence.
“He’s gaining more confidence with every practice, with every rep, and then, obviously, the game,” he said. “That was an outstanding game for him, and he just needs to keep stacking them now. … I’m proud of him, and I’m really happy to see his progression.”
C.J. Mosley Gets More Motivation From Hall of Fame Induction
All of the Ravens that took Owner Steve Bisciotti’s chartered plane to Canton to watch Ray Lewis’ Hall of Fame induction speech either coached or played with the great linebacker.
Except C.J. Mosley.
Mosley was the exception because he has been handed Lewis’ torch in Baltimore as the leader in the middle of the Ravens defense. There’s no filling Lewis’ shoes, but Mosley has played at a similarly high level, going to three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons.
Mosley also grew up idolizing Lewis and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who joined Lewis in the Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
So watching both Lewis and Urlacher put on the gold jacket was an “awesome” experience for Mosley, and one that will give him more motivation moving forward. There’s still a long way to go, but one day he’d like to go into the Hall of Fame too.
“There’s always a possibility,” Mosley said. “I’m trying to win now and get a Super Bowl first. But it’s something to look forward to. You always look for things to get better at to get to that level.”
Check out the on-field action as the Rams came to Owings Mills for the first of two practices before Thursday night's preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium.