Behind the strength of a solid preseason and dropping roughly 80 pounds from several months ago when he was tipping the scales at 415 pounds, Ma'ake Kemoeatu has reclaimed his old job on the Ravens' defense as a starting nose guard.
Kemoeatu started the Ravens' season-opening 44-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium, recording one tackle.
Kemoeatu was out of football last year due to injury and weight issues.
Now, Kemoeatu is back where he was during the 2005 season, when he had a career-high 70 tackles before signing with the Carolina Panthers.
"It feels great, especially to be back with the level of defense that Baltimore is," Kemoeatu said. "It's good to be in there with Haloti Ngata and back with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and those guys. It didn't feel like nothing changed."
Kemoeatu won a competition over former second-round draft pick Terrence Cody during the preseason. Cody started every game last season, but has been dealing with a slight hip injury that hampered him during the preseason.
Cody spelled Kemoeatu and had one tackle against Cincinnati.
The Bengals had success running against Baltimore as BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained 91 yards on 18 carries as Cincinnati finished with 129 yards on 28 carries.
"With Terrence, we have a good rotation going," Kemoeatu sad. "I need a break, he goes in. He needs a break, I go back in. It's like a one-two punch."
In short-yardage or goal-line situations, Kemoeatu, Cody and Ngata are all in the game at the same time.
"Yep, when we think they're going to run for sure, we're both in there," Kemoeatu said. "It's real tough to stop."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun