Marshal Yanda’s injury forces Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens to make adjustments

Marshal Yanda’s injury forces Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens to make adjustments

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the defense already playing at a high level, the Baltimore Ravens are also finding some balance with quarterback Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense.

However, a 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns was dampened when six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was ruled out for the season with an ankle fracture. This means the Ravens will make their first-ever trip to London without their best offensive lineman against Jacksonville, which leads the league with 11 sacks over two games.

Nonetheless, Baltimore is a veteran-laden group that will enter the game with confidence.

“If you don’t have passion, especially in football, and you’re not flying around, getting after it and giving it everything you got, you might as well not be out there,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. “We’ve always had great leadership here. This group is another evolution of that: Ravens leadership.”

Yanda missed parts of training camp as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. However, he was dominant in both regular-season games and anchored an offensive line that had already suffered several key losses.

Projected starter Alex Lewis (shoulder) and promising rookie Nico Siragusa (knee) went down with season-ending injuries in training camp. Center John Urschel decided to retire hours before the first full-squad practice.

While Harbaugh said “nobody can replace Marshal Yanda,” the Ravens will slot Tony Bergstrom in the spot at right guard. Bergstrom was previously acquired from Arizona for a conditional seventh-round pick in next year’s draft.

Bergstrom, a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2012, has just four career starts, but played in 15 games last season with the Houston Texans.

Overall, Baltimore already has 15 players on injured reserve. The loss of Yanda especially resonated with the players.

“It hurts,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is a leader. There is not a word in the English dictionary that can describe what Marshall is to us.”

One week after shutting out the Bengals, the Ravens’ defense had another dominant performance against Cleveland. Baltimore forced five turnovers for the second straight game for the first time in team history. The Ravens are also the third team since the 1970 merger to record four interceptions in each of the season’s first two games, joining the 1992 Steelers and 1971 Browns.

“We just tried to go out and be better than our last performance,” said cornerback Brandon Carr, who already has two interceptions. “We have guys on this defense with the mentality to go after and get the ball every single play. We’ve got a good thing going, and we’re going to try and get better every day.”

One week after running the ball 42 times and attempting just 17 passes, the Ravens had a more balanced offense against the Browns. Flacco completed 25 of 34 pass attempts for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Ravens ran the ball 32 times for 136 yards with Terrance West scoring a touchdown from 4 yards.

“I was a little disappointed in myself. I feel like one of the things I can do is stay pretty patient when I go out there and play,” said Flacco, who missed all of training camp with an ailing back. “I definitely felt like it got the best of me a little bit. We had some guys running open. I thought there was a couple of plays I was trying to do a little bit too much, hoping for too much, and I either missed something or threw a pick way down there. Once I got past all that stuff and being kind of mad at myself, the fact that we were winning and having fun as a group, it was definitely fun.”

Baltimore will leave for London on Thursday. The Ravens, though, won’t be doing much sightseeing. Once they land, the focus is solely on beating Jacksonville.

“It is always a business trip, and we know why we are there,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We know the Jacksonville Jaguars pretty well. The last few years we have had some pretty close games. We have to go in mentally prepared for a physical fight, even though we have to enjoy our time together with our family and our teammates.”

Ravens rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser had the best game of his young career, and he is showing all of the signs of becoming another impact player on the defense.

Bowser got his first sack and interception in a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. Bowser also had a tackle for a loss and was an all-around disruptive force.

“Getting an opportunity to be on the field in front of these fans with these guys on defense, I mean, all the credit goes to them,” Bowser said. “The defensive line put so much pressure on the quarterback, and that helps put me in position to make plays. Very enjoyable game and all the credit to the defense.”

Bowser, the team’s second-round pick from Houston, has impressed coaches with his pass-rush skills and the ability to drop back in pass coverage.

The Ravens were ranked 24th in the NFL with 31 sacks last season. Baltimore already has eight sacks over its two games this year.

“Tyus did a great job,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a guy that takes it very seriously, and it really matters to him. Sometimes I have to grab him a little bit and tell him, ‘It’s going to be OK, man.’ When he doesn’t do things 100 percent right, he really gets down on himself. He went out there today and played hard. He didn’t let things get to him at all.”