The Ravens welcomed back two of their most important players Thursday against the Carolina Panthers, and both were noticeable.
Guard Marshal Yanda saw his first game action since shoulder surgery and cornerback Lardarius Webb saw his first since knee surgery.
With Yanda in the game for the first quarter, Baltimore's offensive line received a clear boost both with improved run blocking and plenty of time afforded to quarterback Joe Flacco. Yanda was on the field for the first offensive series, which was easily Baltimore's best of the preseason - a nine-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a Ray Rice 1-yard touchdown.
Asked how long it would take to return to full strength, Yanda said he thinks he might already be there.
"I felt good tonight," he said. "Right away, I felt pretty strong and I haven't felt like that for a long time since I played through all of last year. Physical-wise, I feel good, so I'm excited to be here. I'm disappointed we had four turnovers. Everybody's a little mad and obviously we all get that. But I feel good that I'm feeling strong."
Yanda had actually departed the game by the time the Ravens started committing turnovers, ones that led directly to Panthers points. But he admitted that if they're going to happen, now is the time when the games don't count.
"Obviously, you never want to have them, but it's the NFL. Things happen," he said. "You just want to learn from them. We've got to take care of the football. That's something that we take pride in. If we have four turnovers and they have zero, it doesn't matter. It's not going to be good for us. We've just got to take care of the turnovers."
Webb returned to take part in a standout performance for the first-team defense. The unit allowed just six points in three quarters. The rest of the scoring came on four returns (two interceptions, one fumble and one punt).
The secondary helped hold Cam Newton to just 10-for-19 passing and 99 yards.
"The D, man, they played good, especially our defensive line, up front, our front seven, D-line, linebackers. They got a lot of rush on Cam tonight, made our job easier," Webb said. "They played terrific to me. I know we have to go back and watch the film and correct some things, but I thought we did a great job."
Webb contributed three tackles and one pass defensed, but he wanted something more on that tipped ball.
"I should've picked it, first of all," he said. "But to get my hands back on the ball, get them back used to it, breaking off the leg, just getting that confidence back up like I want it, it felt good."
Webb was happy with his play overall coming off surgery that cost him most of last season.
"I played all right. I've got a long way to go. I've got to still improve to get back to the feel of the game," he said. "I feel good my first time back on that turf - I've got to get back used to the turf. But I think I played well. ...
"It just felt good being out there with the defense, being out there with the new guys. I've been out for a little while. Just getting back on the football field, man it felt great, it just felt great."
Coach John Harbaugh was pleased to have Yanda and Webb back, playing in a real game.
"Marshal, from what I can tell, did well. It's hard to see him from where I'm at, but it seemed like he was solid when he was in there," Harbaugh said. "I could see Lardarius a little better. I thought he moved well and looked good and played well, so that was good to see. That was good to see, and those are big pluses for us."