Yanda on race to recover by first game

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens veteran offensive guard Marshal Yanda is penciling himself in to return as soon as the season-opener as he has made steady progress from a pair of surgeries to repair three torn knee ligaments suffered last season.

Although Yanda expects to be placed on the physically unable to perform list when training camp starts, his best-case scenario is returning to practice toward the end of camp in Westminster.

"That could definitely be a strong possibility," Yanda said Tuesday at the Ravens' training complex. "We're going to take it the best way, the healthiest way possible. It feels great. The leg feels good.

"We're going to follow the protocol. If it's a little bit early, then I'm not going to push it. If it feels great and there's no swelling, I'm going to keep going and play."

Yanda tore his anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the sixth game of last season against the Indianapolis Colts.

Yanda doesn't expect a worst-case scenario unfolding where he would remain on the PUP list to open the regular season, a slow-healing development where the starting right guard would miss at least the first six weeks of the season under NFL regulations governing injured players.

"That would only happen if something went wrong, if I had a setback and I wasn't ready for some reason," said Yanda, who has been sidelined during the Ravens' offseason minicamps. "There would have to be some sort of hiccup or swelling or pain in my knee. That's a worst-case scenario that I don't plan on happening. It's definitely a long shot."

Chris Chester, who performed capably in Yanda's place last season, has been running with the first-team offense during minicamps.

There's another middle-ground possibility where Yanda wouldn't be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but would be removed from the PUP list and given an extra week or two to get ready to play.

"That could wind up happening," Yanda said. "That would give m a little more time. I want to be in there and I don't want to miss any games. As long as my knee feels great, I'll just go."

Doctors told Yanda it would take him eight months to recover from a Jan. 12 surgery to repair his ACL, a timetable that should allow him to return at some point in August.

Yanda has been able to run, cut and is squatting more weight than he has in years. The real test is how his right leg might hold up under contact, such as trying to hold off a big, charging defensive tackle like Haloti Ngata.

"I've been planting, cutting and pulling and it feels great," said Yanda, who's noticeably bigger than last season. "I've done everything except for contact. I'll know if I'm ready when I'm pass-blocking and folding back on Haloti on one foot and holding him back. My legs are strong. My upper body is strong. My body is back in shape. I've just got to wait."

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