Afternoon Practice Notes*Yanda continues to test his knee.
Marshal Yanda is looking more and more like he will make a full recovery from three torn knee ligaments.
The third-year veteran started five games last year but shredded the anterior, medial and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts.
He still wears a bulky knee brace, but Yanda seems to be returning to form.
Yanda got his first live hits of the year on Saturday afternoon when he rotated with Chris Chester at right guard. He continued that Sunday and is not suffering any ill effects.
During Sunday's p.m. practice, Yanda was lined up against 345-pound defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in offensive/defensive line drills. The Iowa product stonewalled the mountainous Ngata by digging his cleats in the turf. The knee was definitely tested.
Here are some more notes and observations from Sunday evening, when the weather cleared up considerably and fans surrounded a sun-drenched Bair Stadium:
The Ravens ended the day with a little game. With Troy Smith and Joe Flacco both in the lineup, the Ravens' offense snapped the ball from around their 30-yard line and went into a pitch drill. Basically, the offense tried to go the length of the field by lateraling the ball to different players as the defense tried to impede their progress.
Smith actually made the most progress when he faked a pitch at the 50 and weaved to the 25, but that's where it ended, as the ball bounced out of bounds. Stay tuned to BaltimoreRavens.com for actual footage of the entire sequence.
Rice Excels In Afternoon*Ray Rice kept the Ravens' offense going.
*If defense was the star of the Ravens' Sunday morning practice, the offense got its swagger back in the afternoon.
Joe Flacco tossed a few interceptions in the rainy morning session, most notable two in the end zone, one to Haruki Nakamura during red-zone work and another to cornerback Lardarius Webb in 11-on-11 drills.
But the Ravens bounced back later, with special help from running back Ray Rice.
On the first play of a segment of work dedicated to seeing a blitz, Flacco stepped up in the face of pressure and passed to Rice, who slipped out of the backfield. The 5-foot-8 Rice had to reach high with one hand and managed to get just a fingertip on it before he could haul it in. He got a lot of cheers from the crowd at Bair Stadium, which had grown considerably since the sun came out around 1 p.m.
Later, the Ravens were working at midfield with the first-team offense against the starting defense, and Rice and Co. needed a first down.
Rice split out wide and was covered by linebacker Tavares Gooden. He slipped under Gooden to the middle of the field but was still blanketed. Defensive end/linebacker Paul Kruger tipped Flacco's pass to Rice at the line of scrimmage, but the diminutive running back kept his concentration and came up with the reception.
"I just kept my eyes on the ball," Rice said. "I knew that once a glove was on it, it was going to slow down, so I kept my stride and reached up for it. We needed a first down, and we got it."
Rice, who caught 33 passes for 273 yards last year, has really worked hard on his hands this offseason, and he showed Sunday that he can be an even bigger factor in the passing game.
And, that last grab was actually so good, cornerback Fabian Washington yelled out, "Nice catch, Ray!"
Morning Practice Notes*The Ravens practiced in the rain on Derrick Mason's 2009 debut.
Judging from the cheers he's getting with every catch, that might be because Derrick Mason is back on the field.
The familiar No. 85 led the receiver drills with a red non-contact jersey stuffed into his shorts. He looked in-shape and ready to immediately step back in the lineup. I'm sure there will be some timing issues with Joe Flacco he'll have to work out, but that will come easily. The duo has worked hard all offseason.
It's raining on and off here in Westminster, Md., which has opened up a lot of umbrellas among the fans.
That said, the Ravens press on with practice.
So far, here are some early notes and observations:
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