It seemed like a courtesy move, when the Ravens signed Ma’ake Kemoeatu in May.
After all, their former nose tackle was 33 years old, a year removed from competitive football and was trying to run on a surgically repaired Achilles tendon.
Oh yeah, and when he first worked out for them last fall, he weighed 415 pounds.
Since then, Keomoeatu has lost 78 pounds, and remade himself into the kind of player who left Baltimore in free agency for Carolina seven years ago.
“Kemo is pushing for a starting job,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. “He’s in great shape, and he’s playing extremely well.”
After being cut by the Redskins, the big man struggled through his workout last fall, huffing and puffing because of all the extra pounds.
“I got comfortable and I let myself go,” Kemoeatu said of the fact he added 10 pounds a year since leaving.
But after looking so sloppy last fall, he was a new man when he came back in May, back down into the high 330s.
“Remember, they saw me in September. When I send them those pictures in May, they were like, ‘Nah man, this is Photo-shopped. This can’t be him,'” Kemoeatu said. I’m glad Harbaugh and [General Manager Ozzie Newsome] and those guys gave me an opportunity to come back. They say once you’re a Raven, you’re always a Raven.”
If Kemoeatu is well, he gives them a solid backup to Terrence Cody at the least, and perhaps more. He was always a solid player when he was in shape, and now that he’s on what amounts to a last chance, he’s clearly motivated to keep himself in shape.