Cleveland Browns defensive lineman
Now a defensive end in the Browns’ 3-4 defense instead of his original position of nose tackle, Rubin is anxious to return to a defense that has limited the Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens to a combined 119 rushing yards in the first two weeks of the season.
“Mentally, I’ve been ready since it happened,” Rubin said. “I’m always in the game, always watching film, talking to the young guys, talking to the old guys, making sure I stay in the game.
“When you see them hold teams down to little or no rushing yards, knowing that I’m not a part of that, it hurts a little bit. I’m doing everything possible to get back on the field, and hopefully, I can help make some plays and run around with those guys.”
Rubin is no stranger to calf injuries. He experienced a similar injury last season, and was unable to play in three games when he tried to return to the lineup too quickly. This time around, the veteran is taking the “slow and steady” pace.
“It was the same kind of injury this year, but from last year, we’re taking the right steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Rubin said. “I’m just taking it easy. When I step onto the field, hopefully, I’ll be 100 percent.
“I might have pushed myself and came back too early. You can’t really tell with a calf injury like that. It’s kind of tricky, but I’m doing everything right now to be able to play and perform (well) on Sunday. I’m doing the right steps, rehab, taking it easy, making sure I don’t reinjure it like I did last year.”
Rubin’s return to practice on a limited basis this week was well-received by defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who said the 6-2, 330-pound end adds “power, strength, and is an immovable object” on the defensive front.
“He’s going to be a welcomed addition to our defense, not only in the run game, but just leadership on the field, and I’m glad he’s back,” Horton quipped.
Although the Browns’ defense has had success against the run, one area Rubin and Horton are looking to help is on third down.
Despite holding the Ravens to one of seven on third downs in the first half last Sunday, the reigning Super Bowl champs finished the game eight of 16 with quarterback Joe Flacco completing passes on all five of their attempts on second-half scoring drives.
“All we’ve been preaching in the defensive room is ‘Just take care of our job, hold teams to as little yards as we can, and let everything else take care of itself,’” Rubin said. “The biggest thing is just to get off the field on third downs.”
Horton added, “That’s the most glaring stat to me. I am very used to leading the league in third-down defense, and that’s been our biggest emphasis this week, third-down defense. We’re going to call what we call. I am calling a different game. I’m not comfortable with some things yet. We’ll get better, there’s no question about that.”