By SCOTT PETRAK
BEREA â€” Haruki Nakamura will be one of the enemy Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but he canâ€™t wait to see some friendly faces.
â€œIâ€™m very excited,â€ Nakamura said Thursday by phone. â€œThe 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.â€
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.
â€œEverything is going really well for me,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m still a starter on special teams and am getting a little time on defense.
â€œIâ€™m doing everything I need to do. Iâ€™m having fun.â€
Nakamura is third on the Ravens with seven special teams tackles, including five solos. He has one solo tackle as a safety on defense.
â€œHeâ€™s a physical player. Heâ€™s a good core guy for them,â€ Darnell Dinkins, a Browns special teamer, said after watching film. â€œAnd as a rookie, he can only get better.â€
Nakamura saw his first defensive action against the Browns on Sept. 21, but it featured a play heâ€™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.
â€œWhenever I get a chance to step on the field â€” especially defense, especially as part of the Baltimore Ravens defense â€” itâ€™s a great honor,â€ Nakamura said. â€œI try to take advantage.
â€œThat was a little bad luck.â€
Nakamura said he may have a couple of hours Saturday night to leave the hotel and might try to stop at the St. Edâ€™s-St. Ignatius playoff game. But even if he canâ€™t get away, he expects to see family and friends at the hotel and at the game, for which he obtained 16 tickets.
â€œI canâ€™t wait to see everybody,â€ he said.
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THATâ€™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. â€œHeâ€™s holding on for his life. You see me trying to get him off me,â€ Cribbs said. â€œI wonâ€™t hear the end of it from everybody.â€ Scobee suffered a broken right hand, but the injury wonâ€™t sideline him. â€œAnytime you make a tackle saving a touchdown itâ€™s well worth it,â€ Cribbs said. â€œEspecially when youâ€™re a kicker â€” you donâ€™t need fingers.â€
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WILLIEâ€™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. â€œI just had an opportunity to be out there to do it,â€ he said. McGinest, 36, missed two games with a hamstring injury and is used primarily on first and second downs. But he showed heâ€™s still got something left in the tank. â€œWillie can play as many plays as we need him to play,â€ coach Romeo Crennel said. â€œBut if you can manage the number of plays he does play, he can be more productive for us.â€
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INJURY REPORT: Right tackle Ryan Tucker (knee) didnâ€™t practice Thursday and seems unlikely to play for the third straight week, but Crennel said heâ€™s hopeful Tucker will make it back onto the field this season. â€œWhat weâ€™re trying to do is to get him healthy so that he can play,â€ he said. â€œI know that heâ€™s working, heâ€™s rehabbing. Heâ€™s trying to get himself ready to get on the field.â€ â€¦ Safety Sean Jones (knee) returned to practice and was limited. â€¦ Fullback Lawrence Vickers (ankle) and defensive end Corey Williams (shoulder) didnâ€™t practice.
Petrak may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-329-7136.