Yesterday, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters that safety Haruki Nakamura is "one of [his] favorite players" because of how hard the third-year safety works.
Harbaugh predicted that statement would make its way back to the rest of the team, and that Nakamura would end up getting a lot of heat from his teammates.
Turns out, Harbaugh was right.
"I saw that [Harbaugh] said the guys are going to give me a lot of crap for it. They definitely have," Nakamura said today with a laugh.
Harbaugh said that he appreciates the way the Cincinnati product has worked as he comes back from a serious leg injury suffered last year. Nakamura broke his fibula and tore tendons in his ankle in a November game against the Browns, an injury that some suggested could be career-threatening.
"He's a very talented guy, but he's in the weight room doing hang cleans and squats this morning, and here's a guy coming off an ankle injury," Harbaugh said. "That is why he is who he is. He's a guy you root for, and if he plays like that, he's going to play in the league for a long time."
Nakamura smiled when I asked him about Harbaugh's glowing remarks.
"Well, I guess I'm doing something right," he said. "You've got to take it as a compliment because it's one of those things where I've been busting my ass this entire offseason to get healthy. I did a lot of things were I was doing work behind the scenes where nobody would know.
"There were times where I was here at 6 a.m., there were times where I'd come in the afternoon when nobody was even here. I did a lot of things like that. When he says stuff like that, you've definitely got to take it as a compliment. He's a guy that appreciates hard work."
As for the "crap" that he's been getting from his teammates, Nakamura said their comments wouldn't be appropriate for print.
"I can't quite say what they've been saying, but I'll just say that they've been on me," he said, again breaking into laughter. "I'll leave it at that."