The 6-foot-3, 305-pound lineman has played in games a few days after undergoing surgery, gutting it out through injuries that would sideline most players. He was sidelined for the first half of training camp after his shoulder surgery that he delayed until after the playoffs before recently being cleared to participate in full-team drills.
Yanda grew up on a farm in Iowa, rising at dawn to perform back-breaking chores. He once won a cash bet as a rookie when he allowed cornerback Samari Rolle to repeatedly jolt him with a Taser.
That toughness has translated into success on the football field.
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"Yanda has a very aggressive style, very physical, keeps his feet chopping and has good upper body strength," said retired Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, an ESPN analyst. "He plays the position like you should with a gritty mentality where nothing's going to come easy. Yanda has been very good for a long time. He sets the tempo for that line."
Modest and low-key, Yanda doesn't seek attention. The former Iowa standout tends to shrug off compliments.
When Yanda signed his five-year, $32 million contract two years ago, he drove to Baltimore from Iowa to sign his deal instead of flying into town. His first meal after being given a $10 million signing bonus wasn't at a fancy steakhouse, instead dining at local sandwich shop near team headquarters.
"Marshal is your typical Iowa lineman, a really tough kid with his technique down to a science," former Chicago Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said. "He's got that farm-boy strength, and you could run a clinic by watching his technique. He's considered an overachiever because he's undersized, but he's as good at what he does as anyone in the league."
Now, how he and Osemele stack up against their NFL colleagues isn't a preoccupation for Yanda.
"Yeah, that really doesn't matter, as long as we're doing good as a team and as an offensive line," Yanda said. "Just physical guys and smart guys, we all get after it, not just me and K.O. We're all working hard."
Yanda maintains his focus on his blocking techniques, wasting no motion as he uses his hands and feet to create leverage against defenders.
Yanda's crushing shoulder block on Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard after pulling to his left opened a gaping hole for Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice to burst through during the fourth quarter of a double-overtime win in the AFC divisional-round playoffs.
Yanda didn't allow a sack last season.
"Marshal has been around the block," Caldwell said. "He’s a guy that’s very, very physical on the interior, but he’s also very, very experienced.
"He has been through the rounds where he can handle different types of pass rushers. He can handle different types of run stoppers on the inside. He has the strength and power to do so."
Osemele wants to become the best guard in the game. To earn that distinction, though, he knows he'll have to trump Yanda, his mentor.
"Marshal really does set the tone, especially when I watch the film and he has a better game than me," Osemele said. "That makes me up my level of play. My goal this year is to outplay Marshal."