Haruki Nakamura's ankle injury in his hometown of Cleveland last November 16 was so severe it could have ended his brief NFL career.
It did not, however, and the second-year safety has been proving the point this summer during the Ravens' passing camp workouts. Although the team tried to discourage Nakamura from taking reps with the defense, he insisted on practicing.
So far, so good.
"I'm 90 percent" back, Nakamura said. "Once I build my stamina back up, I'll be good. But if I didn't practice, I wouldn't be this far along."
Nakamura, a sixth-round pick in 2008, broke his right ankle on the opening kickoff of the Monday night game against the Browns. He dislocated the ankle, and the force of the dislocation broke his fibula and pinched the tendon on the muscle running down his lower leg. He also tore all his ankle ligaments and damaged nerves in the foot. He still has some numbness in the foot.
Nakamura, an intense competitor, admitted it was a devastating injury at first.
"I had to fight myself in the beginning," he said. "I'd never been carried off the field in any sport. In Japan, you're not supposed to show any emotion or pain. I didn't know how to handle it when I was out. But it made me a better person, and it put things in perspective. I got back to the things that helped get me to this point."
He sat out the team's first passing camp, but slowly worked himself back into the picture.
"At the beginning of OTA's, I mentally wasn't ready," Nakamura said. "Then I got six plays here, six plays there, and I started to feel really good. The last couple weeks, I've gotten better and better."