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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With plenty of uncertainty surrounding their starting offense, the Ravens received good news Monday with the return of Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda to the practice field.
The 28-year-old took part in the workout in a limited capacity, doing individual work and taking some reps with the starting offense in the non-contact practice.
“It was great to see him back out there in a limited amount in terms of what he was able to do,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “It’s always great to have him out there. He’s a great leader. Obviously, he’s been in meetings and things of that nature, but he brings a lot of experience and certainly a lot of toughness to our guys upfront.”
Sidelined for the entire spring after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Yanda was taking part in practice for the first time this summer. The seventh-year lineman had made good progress in his rehab and had been taking part in morning walk-throughs for quite some time, according to head coach John Harbaugh.
Yanda hadn’t been in pads since Super Bowl XLVII in February as he underwent a procedure to repair a torn rotator cuff, forcing him to miss organized team activities and mandatory minicamp in the spring. However, the Ravens never expressed concern that the 2007 third-round pick wouldn’t be ready for the start of the regular season despite acknowledging that he’d miss a substantial portion of training camp before returning.
“I don’t want to put an exact date on it, but it will be in training camp pretty good,” Harbaugh said about the standout guard on July 31. “We aren’t in a rush with him. [He is] very much on schedule. He’s doing certain things. He does things in the morning. He goes through the morning workout. He goes through some individual stuff, so he’s practicing. He’s just not going through the contact stuff, but he’s doing very, very well.”
Yanda was working with the first-team offensive line in a lighter practice that featured helmets, shells, and shorts on Monday afternoon, but it would appear he won’t make his live-game debut until at least the third preseason game next week against the Carolina Panthers.
Newly-signed veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley was also taking part in his first practice after officially signing a one-year deal with Baltimore on Sunday. However, veteran tight end Dallas Clark was not on the field for the early portion of practice as he was undergoing a physical and finalizing his deal with the Ravens.
Second-year running back Bernard Pierce (knee) also returned to practice after missing the last two workouts since the preseason opener when he injured his knee in the second quarter. Harbaugh said Sunday that Pierce has a chance to play in Thursday’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Linebacker Bryan Hall (hamstring) also returned to the practice field after being sidelined since the preseason opener.
A number of players were still missing from the practice field on Monday including linebacker Courtney Upshaw, cornerbacks Chykie Brown (undisclosed) and Chris Johnson (undisclosed), defensive tackle Marcus Spears (undisclosed), wide receivers Deonte Thompson (foot) and Marlon Brown (undisclosed), offensive linemen Ramon Harewood (knee) and Ryan Jensen (foot), and tight ends Ed Dickson (hamstring) and Dennis Pitta (hip).
Linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) remains on the active physically unable to perform list and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) is still on the non-football injury list.
Caldwell excited to have Stokley, Clark in fold
Jim Caldwell had his first opportunity to comment on the veteran additions of Stokley and Clark, who worked with the Baltimore offensive coordinator in Indianapolis.
Stokley played with the Colts from 2003 through 2006 when Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach while Clark spent the first nine years of his career in Indianapolis, which included Caldwell’s three-year tenure as head coach. Despite being at the tail end of their respective careers, both players are expected to provide the Ravens with middle-of-the-field options they’re looking for with Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta no longer in the picture.
“You can see that they’ve been productive,” Caldwell said. “Obviously, their roles have changed over the years — maybe haven’t played quite as much in certain situations. We have a good blend of personnel groupings that we use and we certainly would be able to get them in the mix and give them an opportunity to show what they can do.”
Clark’s best season came in 2009 — Caldwell’s first season as the Indianapolis head man — when he caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns to earn his first and only trip to the Pro Bowl.
Caldwell had stayed in contact in recent days with his former tight end through text messaging but hadn’t spoken to Clark over the last couple days as an agreement was reached.
“John [Harbaugh] and Ozzie [Newsome] take a look at all the possibilities and make determinations as such,” said Caldwell, who downplayed the impact of his relationships with Clark and Stokley in the Ravens’ decision to sign each player. “Every once in a while they’ll ask for what [my] opinion is on certain situations, but it does not carry the predominance of the weight. They look at it all, see if it’s a good fit for us, and make the decision from there.”
Upshaw excused from practice
Upshaw’s absence from the practice Sunday M&T Bank Stadium remained a mystery until his social media activity early on Monday.
The second-year linebacker wrote on his official Twitter account about a new addition to his family and defensive coordinator Dean Pees confirmed after Monday’s practice that the second-year linebacker was excused from the team for the birth of his son.
Upshaw has worked as the starting strongside outside linebacker with veteran Elvis Dumervil serving as more of a pass-rush specialist to this point in the summer, which would also free him up to occasionally spell Terrell Suggs at the rush linebacker position as well.
“They’ll all play. They all have a role on this team,” Pees said. “It’s a game-to-game thing, and a lot depend one the packages we have in and what we’re doing for that particular game. They’re all good players and they’re ll going to play.”
Upshaw made two tackles against the Buccaneers in the preseason opener.
Stokley worked with both the first and second offenses and ran a crisp sideline route to beat cornerback Corey Graham for a touchdown from quarterback Joe Flacco early in the practice session. However, the quarterback and receiver weren’t on the same page a few plays later as Stokley appeared to run the wrong route and the pass sailed into the arms of cornerback Lardarius Webb. Needless to say, Stokley was doing plenty of learning on the fly as he tried to get up to speed in Caldwell’s offensive system. … Webb still isn’t a full participant in team drills, but the fifth-year cornerback continues to increase his level of activity in team drills and recorded two interceptions on Monday. Pees was noncommittal about Webb’s potential participation in the preseason, deferring to Harbaugh and the training staff in describing where the cornerback is physically at this stage. … Wide receiver Torrey Smith made a nifty touchdown catch over cornerback Asa Jackson on a fade route during an 11-on-11 red-zone drill on Monday. … The practice marked the first time all summer that the projected starting offensive line was able to work together as left tackle Bryant McKinnie, left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Gino Gradkowski, Yanda, and right tackle Michael Oher worked a limited number of plays together in team drills.