When the NFL Network did its “Top 100 Players” countdown, the Baltimore Ravens had one player on it. It wasn’t Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Joe Flacco, Mike Wallace or any of the Ravens’ more recognizable names.
It was Marshal Yanda.
If you follow the NFL closely enough, you know Yanda. He’s perhaps the best guard in football. He didn’t just sneak on that NFL Network top 100 list; Yanda ranked No. 43. The next two players on the list were Cam Newton and Larry Fitzgerald, the 2015 NFL MVP and then a sure Hall-of-Fame receiver. Casual fans might not recognize the name because he plays a position that doesn’t get much attention, but he’s a great player.
[Watch on Yahoo: Ravens vs. Jaguars live from London Sept. 24]
And now he’s done for the season. Yanda fractured his ankle last week. That injury might not have sent people scrambling to the waiver wire in your fantasy league, but it’s as big of an injury as there has been in the early part of this season. The Ravens go into Sunday’s game at London against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which will be streamed on Yahoo Sports, without their best player.
“Losing one of the leaders of our offense and the whole team in general, it’s definitely a big hit to the team,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said after Sunday’s game, according to the Baltimore Sun. “But we know that football, it has to go on. I know Marshal would say the same thing. We’ve got to keep pushing forward.”
The Ravens have been pounded by injuries the past couple months, but still have started 2-0. That’s mostly thanks to a defense that has been among the best in the NFL. The Ravens have allowed just 10 points all season. But the offense hasn’t been that great, and it probably won’t get better without Yanda.
Yanda has made the Pro Bowl each of the last six seasons, with two first-team All-Pro nods. The 2007 third-round pick out of Iowa has been a starter since early in his rookie season and has developed into a remarkable player.
His absence affects the Ravens’ run game. It affects the protection for Flacco. His absence will affect Baltimore’s offense in plenty of ways. Even if you didn’t know Yanda’s name or understand his importance to one of the NFL’s eight 2-0 teams, just know that it’s a crushing injury for the Ravens.
“It’s brutal,” guard Tony Bergstrom, who will replace Yanda, told the Ravens’ website. “Obviously, you can’t replace a guy like that. The toughness he has and the kind of character he brings to the team, it’s rough. … There’s no replacing him, but you still have to move on.”
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Tribute for deceased HS soccer player turns into a ‘funky’ miracle
• St. Louis youth football team kneels during anthem
• Cyborg’s unusual offer to fight Rousey
• Week 3 fantasy football rankings: Who should you start?