June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Nakamura will see some friendly faces in stands


Staff Writer

BEREA — Haruki Nakamura will be one of the enemy Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but he can’t wait to see some friendly faces.

“I’m very excited,” Nakamura said Thursday by phone. “The biggest thing for me is having fun and everybody getting a chance to watch me play again. The last time a lot of my family and friends saw me play in person was in high school.”

Nakamura grew up in Elyria and attended Lakewood St. Edward High School. He went to the University of Cincinnati and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round in April.

“Everything is going really well for me,” he said. “I’m still a starter on special teams and am getting a little time on defense.

“I’m doing everything I need to do. I’m having fun.”

Nakamura is third on the Ravens with seven special teams tackles, including five solos. He has one solo tackle as a safety on defense.

“He’s a physical player. He’s a good core guy for them,” Darnell Dinkins, a Browns special teamer, said after watching film. “And as a rookie, he can only get better.”

Nakamura saw his first defensive action against the Browns on Sept. 21, but it featured a play he’d just as soon forget. Nakamura was the blitzer from deep in the secondary when the Browns called a well-timed screen to Jerome Harrison, who scored a 19-yard touchdown.

“Whenever I get a chance to step on the field — especially defense, especially as part of the Baltimore Ravens defense — it’s a great honor,” Nakamura said. “I try to take advantage.

“That was a little bad luck.”

Nakamura said he may have a couple of hours Saturday night to leave the hotel and might try to stop at the St. Ed’s-St. Ignatius playoff game. But even if he can’t get away, he expects to see family and friends at the hotel and at the game, for which he obtained 16 tickets.

“I can’t wait to see everybody,” he said.

THAT’S THE KICKER: Kick returner Joshua Cribbs hates being tackled by a kicker. So when a Jacksonville newspaper captured Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee dragging him down Sunday, it was sure to find its way to Cribbs. Indeed, someone anonymously left Cribbs the picture that shows Scobee hanging onto his jersey despite being stiff-armed. “He’s holding on for his life. You see me trying to get him off me,” Cribbs said. “I won’t hear the end of it from everybody.” Scobee suffered a broken right hand, but the injury won’t sideline him. “Anytime you make a tackle saving a touchdown it’s well worth it,” Cribbs said. “Especially when you’re a kicker — you don’t need fingers.”

WILLIE’S STILL GOT IT: Outside linebacker Willie McGinest had his most productive games of the season against Jacksonville. He had a team-high four quarterback pressures to go along with two tackles. “I just had an opportunity to be out there to do it,” he said. McGinest, 36, missed two games with a hamstring injury and is used primarily on first and second downs. But he showed he’s still got something left in the tank. “Willie can play as many plays as we need him to play,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “But if you can manage the number of plays he does play, he can be more productive for us.”

INJURY REPORT: Right tackle Ryan Tucker (knee) didn’t practice Thursday and seems unlikely to play for the third straight week, but Crennel said he’s hopeful Tucker will make it back onto the field this season. “What we’re trying to do is to get him healthy so that he can play,” he said. “I know that he’s working, he’s rehabbing. He’s trying to get himself ready to get on the field.” … Safety Sean Jones (knee) returned to practice and was limited. … Fullback Lawrence Vickers (ankle) and defensive end Corey Williams (shoulder) didn’t practice.

Petrak may be reached at spetrak@chroniclet.com or 440-329-7136.