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Maake Kemoeatu thought his career might be over about five months ago in Owings Mills, Md.
That’s when the street free agent, hoping to get back into the NFL after a year away, first tried out for the Ravens.
Problem was he tipped the scales at a whopping 415 pounds.
The nose tackle struggled to get through the workout and at the end, the Ravens told him he was just too big and they didn’t have the time to get him in shape.
“I considered shutting it down,” the nine-year veteran said. “Then I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to give this another shot.’”
Kemoeatu figured he would get in shape for personal reasons, then see if somebody would sign him by August. That was his retirement deadline.
Last week, Kemoeatu came back to Baltimore for a second tryout. And now he may have rejuvenated his career.
After reporting much slimmer, Kemoeatu earned a one-year contract to be a run-stuffing defensive lineman for his former team.
“I feel like I’m in position to make a comeback, maybe have another three or four-year run,” Kemoeatu said.
Kemoeatu went on a strict weight-loss plan following his first workout for Baltimore. Five months later, his agent called the Ravens back to report the news and gauge their interest. The Ravens wanted to see proof, so the agent sent over photos and a workout video.
Impressed with what they saw, the Ravens brought Kemoeatu to the facility for another workout.
It was true. Kemoeatu had lost 70 pounds.
“They couldn’t believe it,” Kemoeatu said. “Rumor was that some of the coaches said my photos were photoshopped.”
To lose the weight, Kemoeatu worked out every weekday morning with MASE training in Ashburn, Va. Then he did 90 minutes of Bikram yoga in a 110-degree room four times a week at night. He did just the yoga on Saturdays and Sundays.
His diet consists of a Body By Visalus shake for breakfast, a piece of chicken or fish for lunch, a second shake in mid-afternoon, then another shake if he’s hungry enough for dinner.
“Instead of going out and eating a piece of steak, I have a shake,” he said with a chuckle.
“When I lost 30 or 40 pounds I was like, ‘Hey, I’m feeling better.’ Then I got up to 50 pounds and I was like, ‘You know what, I think I can do this.’”
Kemoeatu is still on the same plan. He weighed in at 345 pounds for his workout and wants to drop another 25 or 30 before the start of the season to get down to the same playing weight he had in his last stint with Baltimore six years ago.
It was then that Kemoeatu started all 16 games of the 2005 season, making 40 tackles and one sack. He then moved on to Carolina for three seasons before tearing his Achilles tendon.
Kemoeatu signed with the Washington Redskins for the 2010 season, but wasn’t fully healed by the time it began. Even though he couldn’t fully flex his right foot, he played through the injury, started 12 games and made 29 tackles. The Redskins cut him the following July.
Kemoeatu spent all of last year out of football, a strange feeling for the player who the Ravens claimed as an undrafted free agent in 2002.
Now Kemoeatu is working to make the Ravens’ 53-man roster. He got more competition on Monday with the signing of defensive tackle Ryan McBean, but Kemoeatu is just happy to have another chance.
“This situation could not have been more perfect. I’m coming back to a defense that I know how to play in,” Kemoeatu said.
“I’m just going to come in and help with whatever the team needs help with. If it’s rotating in with the starters, it’s whatever. I’m going to play my role of helping the team win. The team is already successful as it is.”