Yanda a harsh self-critic after start

The Baltimore Sun

SAN DIEGO -- The mystery of whether the Ravens would make a switch at right offensive tackle was anything but a mystery for the principals involved.

Rookie Marshal Yanda said that he knew Tuesday that he would be starting in place of Adam Terry against the San Diego Chargers yesterday.

Yanda, 22, fared decently, but chastised himself for surrendering a couple of sacks in the second half.

"I think I had too many mental errors out there," he said. "I don't feel that I was getting physically beat by those guys, but it was what I was doing. I got beat around the edge a couple of times, and I just didn't get out of my stance. Every other time I got out of my stance and got on my feet, I could block them, and I was fine. I had a couple of mental errors out there."

Starting is not exactly new for Yanda, who started at right tackle for six consecutive games earlier this season when injuries forced the team to use Jonathan Ogden, Terry and rookie Jared Gaither at left tackle.

But inserting Yanda now was somewhat surprising because Terry, 25, had been projected as the starting right tackle after Tony Pashos signed a free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week, however, there were whispers that Yanda might be more comfortable at right tackle than Terry, and an ankle injury for Terry that popped up during the Thanksgiving holiday cemented the idea of a switch.

"Adam's been nursing some ankle injuries," coach Brian Billick said of the decision to start Yanda.

Yanda said the knowledge that he would be starting helped him prepare for the week of practice leading up to yesterday's game.

"It doesn't change for me too much," he said, "but in the back of your mind, you know you're going to play. You have to be ready to play, so your preparations are the same. But in the back of your mind, you know you're going to play, and that's a little bit of an edge you like to have."

Career first for McClain

Le'Ron McClain nearly made a rookie mistake.

The first-year fullback appeared to take a page out of his veteran teammates' playbook by tossing the football away and running back to the sideline after scoring his first career touchdown on a 13-yard catch midway through the third quarter.

But McClain got a quick reminder from tight end Daniel Wilcox.

"I forgot," McClain said after the game. "But then Wilcox told me on the sideline, 'Why didn't you keep the ball?' But they got it for me. I need that ball."

McClain scored by charging straight at linebacker Matt Wilhelm before suddenly cutting to his right toward the right sideline. Kyle Boller's pass zipped past a diving Wilhelm, and McClain rumbled the remaining 5 yards into the end zone untouched.

"It felt good," McClain said. "I scored in the preseason against the Eagles, but this is like 10 times better scoring in the regular season, especially on the road. This is my first touchdown since high school on the road. So I feel pretty good about that."

McGahee extends streak

Willis McGahee's 59-yard, one-touchdown performance yesterday extended one streak but ended another for the running back.

With his 1-yard plunge in the second quarter, McGahee - who suffered a foot injury but returned to the game - has posted a rushing touchdown in six consecutive games.

But McGahee's string of outgaining every opposing running back he has faced this season ended, as the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson compiled 77 yards.

"I think I did OK, but it could have been way better than what I did today," McGahee said.

Figurs returns to form

It's becoming increasingly clear that rookie Yamon Figurs is a talented return specialist - if he gets his hands on the football.

Figurs averaged 25.3 yards - his fourth-highest mark this season - on six kickoff returns and returned one 57 yards to set up McGahee's touchdown.

Figurs might have upped his average if Mike Anderson hadn't tried to field a squib kick and fumbled it away late in the second quarter.

"It was good to be back out there," said Figurs, who had been dealing with a sprained right knee over the past month. "That's what is expected of me to do."

Figurs, however, said he had one regret about his long return, his fourth of at least 50 yards this season.

"I should have just cut back, but I kept running," Figurs said, alluding to avoiding the Chargers' Clinton Hart's tackle. "That's football."

Injury report

A team spokesman said linebacker Jarret Johnson suffered a mild concussion, but the injury was not believed to be serious.

His status for next Monday night's game against the New England Patriots is unclear.

Cornerback Chris McAlister missed his fourth game in the past five weeks. McAlister, who did not practice last week, had missed three games with a strained right knee before playing in last Sunday's 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The team also deactivated tight ends Todd Heap (strained hamstring) and Wilcox (sprained toe). Quinn Sypniewski earned his fifth start in the past seven weeks.

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high ankle sprain), safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring), offensive tackle Jared Gaither and linebacker Edgar Jones were also inactive.

Steve McNair (shoulder) was designated as the emergency (third) quarterback.

End zone

Tomlinson's 36-yard scamper in the early moments of the second quarter moved him past the 10,000-yard career rushing mark. "It's been the benchmark for a lot of running backs in this league, but I never set out to get 10,000 yards," said Tomlinson, who has 10,048. "I kind of take it, like, you get 10,000 yards but that means you're getting older, too." ... The Ravens' defense has not surrendered 100 rushing yards to an opposing running back in the past 14 games. ... Rookie tight end Lee Vickers caught the first pass of his career, but it went for a 1-yard loss.


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