Brian Mitchell sits down with Ravens LT Bryant McKinnie
The Ravens first-team offense sputtered through much of the preseason, and perhaps that is to be expected. The offense was, in Ray Rice's words, "very vanilla" in the preseason, as the Ravens didn't want to show too much too soon. No sense giving opponents a jump on scouting.
But another key reason for the Ravens struggles was the absence of Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, who missed most of the preseason recovering from shoulder surgery. Yanda, a Pro Bowl pick each of the past two years, had shoulder surgery shortly after the Super Bowl. He missed the first couple of weeks of training camp and played in only briefly in one preseason game, against Carolina.
Yanda, though, says all systems are go for the season opener at Denver. He has been a full participant in practice lately and has not been mentioned on the team's injury report this week.
"Ready to go," Yanda said earlier this week. "I feel good."
Yanda's presence was missed, and his impact upon return was obvious.
With Yanda in the starting lineup against Carolina, the Ravens marched efficiently down the field on their opening possession. Mixing the run and the pass, the Ravens drove 69 yards in nine plays for a touchdown.
"It felt good to knock the rust off a little bit," he said.
It was the first time all training camp that the Ravens had their projected starting offensive line playing in a game together. That includes Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Gino Gradkowski at center, Yanda at right guard and Michael Oher at right tackle.
When Yanda left the Carolina game after a couple of series, the offense struggled, which is both a testament to Yanda and a valid concern about offensive line depth.
Yanda echoed other players and coaches in saying that just because they won't be facing Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller (suspended) doesn't mean anything will come easy against the Broncos.
"They got a lot of the same faces we faced last year. They got a couple of guys who are gone, but still the same coordinator, so the same scheme that they're going to run under front," Yanda said. "They are physical, stop-the-run guys," he said, "They're doing well. They're a good defense."