ALAMEDA – Kelechi Osemele is an emotional guy, and plays with passion that turns violent on game day. While the Raiders' left guard doesn't need extra motivation to get pumped up for a big game, he'll have plenty of it on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Osemele spent the first four years of his career with the Ravens, who selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. He developed into one of the league's elite interior lineman, but the Ravens still chose to let Osemele walk.
He ultimately signed a five-year, $58 million contract with the Raiders, at the time the largest contract for an offensive guard. The Ravens didn't make a satisfactory offer to keep Osemele, which bothered him greatly.
"I let my agent handle all of that (contract talk), and he would report back to me what the offer was and what he thought I was worth," Osemele said. "The numbers didn't come anywhere close. It hurts your feelings a little bit. I spent the last four years there, and there's a lot of ups and downs. It was hard to find out that the only team you've known won't be the team you stick with."
That should ratchet up intensity in his return to Baltimore.
"It's going to be an emotional day," Osemele said. "There are guys who were your teammates, and now you're going to compete against them. That's going to be a different twist. It'll be a passionate day for me, with a lot of mixed feelings playing in that stadium."
While the financing wasn't close, the Ravens were disappointed to lose out on Osemele. He was well respected in the locker room and fit in well with their physical offensive line.
"He did not disappoint ever, at any point in time in terms of what he contributed to our program," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "So, lot of respect for him and we expect him to play really well and expect it to be a real tough matchup because we know how good he is."
Osemele said his style of play was partially shaped by the Ravens. The Raiders have benefitted from that, as Osemele's brought a nastiness to the front five. Run blocking has improved dramatically, especially on the interior.
The Ravens play the same way, which should make for an interesting matchup on Sunday.
"They're a physical team," Osemele said. "A lot of my playing demeanor came from being in Baltimore. They wanted to build a bully and have a bully's mentality. It's going to be a physical game, playing with AFC North smash-mouth football. That's what we're going to get on Sunday, and I look forward to it."