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Marshal Yanda says healthy offensive line is crucial to Ravens success on offense

The bye week featured the return of right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) to full participation in practice. It was an encouraging sign for a Ravens offensive line beset by injuries and ineffectiveness.

Asked if the offensive line feels a sense of responsibility to anchor the offense, Yanda replied, "I feel like it's on us every week. I feel like it starts up front. Obviously, in the NFL, it starts up front winning the line of scrimmage. When we do that, we usually have success. When we don't do that and don't protect the quarterback, things usually don't go our way. It starts up front every week, especially in our division, and we understand that, for sure."

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The mixing and matching of linemen at various positions has contributed to the team ranking 26th in the NFL in rushing yards and 25th in yards per carry. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked 15 times and hit 45 times. He is on pace to be hit 102 times, which would be a career high.

Sunday's opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, ranks last in the league in sacks (eight) and is tied for the second-fewest number of interceptions (three). But Yanda said keeping Flacco upright is the highest priority.

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"No matter what, protecting the quarterback is very important," he said. "Obviously, we haven't been getting that done as well as we would have liked. It's going to be very important. We're excited about the challenge. We're excited about keeping him clean and letting him play his game."

Having Stanley, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft, back in the lineup would allow rookie Alex Lewis to slide back to left guard. Similarly, the return of Yanda, a five-time Pro Bowler, would solidify the right side of the line with right tackle Rick Wagner.

After criticizing himself for not sparking the offense to score more points, Flacco acknowledged that it would be nice to operate behind the offensive line that started the first three games of the season when the Ravens went 3-0.

"I think it'll definitely be a help," he said. "We still have to go out there and play, but it's definitely nice to have those guys back."

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