OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura turned in an acrobatic interception of an Eli Manning pass deflected by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
As the pass headed toward the ground Saturday night during a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium, Nakamura came down with the football by tumbling over Giants wide receiver Steve Smith.
"I was about as lucky as I could get right there," Nakamura said. "The receiver had shook the heck out of me. He made me look so bad. It was just one of those things where I was trying to finish the play, the ball bobbles and I got lucky."
The interception was upheld after an instant-replay review.
"How about that interception?" Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That’s as good a play as you’re ever going to see. I don’t know how he came up with the ball. He’s just a tremendous athlete. He’s a football player through and through. He’s a big part of our football team, no doubt."
After ending last season on injured reserve with a broken ankle that required surgery, Nakamura has made it clear that he’s back with his work with the first-team defense in the Ravens’ nickel package.
"I’m about as close to 100 percent as I’m going to get right now," Nakamura said. "I’ve been really working hard, trying to stay healthy and even trying to get more healthy."
Nakamura had a quarterback hit on Rhett Bomar and four pass deflections.
"I’m just out here having fun," Nakamura said. "Through this injury, I’ve learned to appreciate this game for what it is. This is a privilege for us to be out here."
ON THE SPOT: With Donte’ Stallworth out for up to two months with a broken foot that will require surgery, an opportunity is there for Marcus Smith to climb the wide receiver depth chart.
Out for all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Smith is one of the Ravens’ top special-teams contributors as a punt gunner and a member of the kickoff, kickoff return and punt return teams.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder also caught an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Giants, catching four passes for 29 yards.
"I worked my butt off to get back, I worked on the little things at wide receiver just to better myself coming back to the team," Smith said. "It was hard for me to come back off that injury. I was trying to better myself as a receiver. I’m just trying to find my role. I know we have guys in here. Now that Donte’ is down, that was a really big play for me."
Smith said he redeemed himself on the scoring play after missing a deep route earlier in the drive.
"We talked about that, Troy said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’m coming back to you, I’ve got faith in you,’" Smith said. "I knew if I came inside, Troy might come to me."
A former fourth-round draft pick out of New Mexico, Smith’s patience has been tried.
"I’ve been waiting," he said. "The opportunity might not have always been there. After three years of working, I feel like now’s the time to show my abilities as a wide receiver and not just as a special-teams guy.
"The game has slowed down a little bit. I know the coverage, know the matchups and have a little more confidence in myself. I feel like I’m going to be all right."
BLITZING CORNERBACK: Weeks removed from a hamstring pull, cornerback Chris Carr is hitting full stride again. He led the Ravens with eight tackles, sacking Giants quarterback Eli Manning on a cornerback blitz.
"That’s not a slouch team," Carr said. "They’re a physical team. It was a confidence-booster, but it’s still preseason. You can’t get overconfident. Once the games start, nobody’s going to care what we did to the Giants."
On a 3rd-and-9 situation, Carr burst into the Giants’ backfield untouched to deck Manning for an 11-yard loss at the New York 2-yard line.
"I saw him look, he knew we were coming," Carr said. "I was coming from the outside. I knew they saw us coming, so I just decided to go inside."
Carr also had to tackle bruising Giants runner Brandon Jacobs.
"Jacobs is a big guy," he said. "If I have to do that, I have to do that."
Carr’s hamstring injury held up well.
"It felt good," he said. "I’ve been playing well the whole offseason, training camp. So, it was good to pick up where I left off before I got injured. When you’re playing well, you don’t want to get injured. You’re in a groove."
PARMELE PROVING HIMSELF: Just in case there was any doubt, Jalen Parmele has all but officially won the kickoff return job.
Against the Giants, he turned in a 37-yard return. In three preseason games, Parmele has averaged 31.3 yards per kickoff return. David Reed and Prince Miller have averaged 20 and 22 yards this preseason.
Last year, he averaged 31.4 yards per return. That included long returns of 53 and 45 yards.
Why do the Ravens like Parmele?
He takes care of the football, and he runs hard and decisively upfield.
"We have athletes, no question," Harbaugh said. "Jalen, especially, he’s a north-south, hard-running guy and it’s hard to get in front of him."
MISSING STALLWORTH: Not having Stallworth subtracts the top deep threat from the offense and one of the fastest players on the team.
"It’s a huge setback," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "We’re going to miss Donte’, but we’re going to continue to play. Donte’, he’s worked so hard to get himself back playing at a high level. For this to happen to him, it’s just unfortunate.
"We’re going to miss him, but we’ll be alright. When you think about the man, it’s a big blow because of what he’s been through. He’s got some weeks to get over it and hopefully the foot will heal quickly, and he’ll be back on the field for us."
Stallworth was suspended for the entire season last year and served 24 days in jail after pleading guilty to a vehicular manslaughter charge while driving under the influence.
He had been averaging 18.3 yards per catch on four receptions this preseason.
"It’s a big blow for us, because he’s definitely a guy that can help this team," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "Especially with his speed stretching the defense, that’s a blow for us."
Added quarterback Joe Flacco: "Yeah, it’s a shame. He’s been doing a great job for us. He’s been a big addition for us. He’s going to work hard to get back, and we’ll be ready for him when he does."
QUICK HITS: It was a quick shift back to a familiar spot for right offensive guard Marshal Yanda, moving to right tackle for two plays when Tony Moll left the game when his shoe came off and he got his heel checked out. "It felt fine," said Yanda, who was replaced at right guard by Chris Chester. "You’ve got to be ready. If his shoe comes off, if he gets hurt, you have to be ready to go." … Yanda noticed the Giants’ defensive line getting tired when the Ravens orchestrated their hurry-up offense. "We wore them out," Yanda said. "Justin Tuck got pretty tired. We’re in good shape because we work our butts off." … Rookie tight end Ed Dickson, the team’s third-round draft pick, caught four passes for 56 yards. He leads the Ravens with 86 receiving yards on seven receptions. "It feels pretty good," he said. "When I go out there to compete, I don’t want the offense to miss a beat."