Osemele moved on but hasn’t for­got­ten

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Michael Waga­man

Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele has a few phys­i­cal re­minders of his time in Bal­ti­more, most no­tably the Su­per Bowl ring he won as a rookie in 2012 that sits in a safe that his mother watches over.

Men­tally, the vet­eran of­fen­sive line­man can’t shake the mem­o­ries of a bit­ter off­sea­son split af­ter four highly pro­duc­tive years with the Ravens that ul­ti­mately led to his ar­rival in Oak­land, where he’s be­come the an­chor of one of the top lines in the NFL.

Head­ing back to M&T Sta­dium for the first time since then in a crit­i­cal game for both teams, Osemele ad­mits it will be an un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be an emo­tional day,” Osemele said. “Guys that were your team­mate, you’re go­ing to be com­pet­ing against for the first time ever. That’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent twist. It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be a pas­sion­ate day for me . a lot of mixed feelings go­ing on at that time in that sta­dium.”

The 60th over­all pick in 2012, Osemele started 51 games at three dif­fer­ent po­si­tions dur­ing his four years with the Ravens while earn­ing a well-de­served rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of the most men­ac­ing and tena­cious block­ers in the league.

Be­cause of his re­sume and age, Osemele ex­pected to stay a long time in Bal­ti­more be­fore ne­go­ti­a­tions on a con­tract ex­ten­sion broke down.

The Ravens re­port­edly of­fered Osemele a deal that would have made him the sec­ond-high­est paid player on the team. Ac­cord­ing to Osemele, how­ever, the of­fer wasn’t even close to what the mar­ket was for a player of his cal­iber.

Osemele quickly got over it af­ter sign­ing a fiveyear, $58.5 mil­lion con­tract with the Raiders. Yet the mem­ory of leav­ing the only NFL team he had played with still res­onates, much like the dev­as­tat­ing blocks de­liv­ered on op­pos­ing lineback­ers by the 6-foot-5-inch, 330-pound Osemele.

“The num­bers just didn’t come any­where close,” Osemele said. “It hurts your feelings a lit­tle bit be­cause you spent the last four years there. There have been a lot of ups and downs, win­ning the Su­per Bowl there, and to kind of find out that’s prob­a­bly not where you’re go­ing to end up can be a lit­tle emo­tional.”

Osemele has re­sisted the urge to reach out to his friends on the Ravens ros­ter this week as he tries to keep his feelings in check.

“I haven’t re­ally talked in­di­vid­u­ally with those guys about what they’re do­ing dif­fer­ently, not that they would tell me, but they def­i­nitely look like their old selves,” Osemele said. “They’re a phys­i­cal team. That’s a lot of where my play­ing de­meanor came from, that build-a-bully men­tal­ity . so that’s what we’re go­ing to get.”

Oak­land’s of­fen­sive line has had a def­i­nite im­pact on the team’s early suc­cess.

Quar­ter­back Derek Carr has barely been touched so far while di­rect­ing the NFL’s sec­ond-ranked of­fense. In three games, Carr has been sacked just twice, and one of them came on a scram­ble out of bounds. The two sacks al­lowed by Oak­land’s of­fen­sive line are tied for the fewest in the NFL with San Fran­cisco and the New York Jets.

The Raiders are also mov­ing the ball on the ground ef­fec­tively with the league’s No. 2 rush­ing at­tack while av­er­ag­ing 148.3 yards a game.

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