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Rubin impresses in first half

Posted Oct 30, 2010

DL Ahtyba Rubin has excelled and impressed at the nose tackle spot this season.

When three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Shaun Rogers was lost for the season during the Browns’ 16-7 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals last November, he left some big shoes to fill, but then second-year defender Ahtyba Rubin played well in relief.

Rubin started the team’s final five games at nose tackle, four of which resulted in Browns wins, and helped limit opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in three of those contests.

In 2010, Rubin has picked up where he left off last season. He is the leading tackler among Browns defensive linemen, having registered 33 total and 24 solo tackles. Rubin has added one interception and two pass break-ups this season.

“A lot of his plays do happen on pursuit and that’s one of the things that we always talk about defensively,” said Browns coach Eric Mangini. “It’s communication; it’s disguise and it’s pursuit. Those are things that we should do every single play. Pursuit, it doesn’t matter what your ability is. You can run to the football. It has nothing to do with talent or any of that stuff; it just has to do with effort and what’s right, and he consistently does that and he makes plays.

“You see so many plays each week across the league where someone made an effort play that changes the game,” he added. “What you like about a guy like Rubin is that position typically doesn’t run to the ball that way. So, he’s a great example of what you can do if you want to do it and what that translates into in terms of production. He spoke to the team one night and he just said, ‘You guys are really important to me and I’m not going to let you down and you can count on me game in and game out.’ He’s not a man of a thousand words, but it was sincere and it’s been backed up by what he does. You just have a lot of respect for that.”

One of the things Rubin has gotten noticed for is his ability to chase down a play from his place along the defensive line. At 6-foot-2 and 330 pounds, that is not always the easiest task.

“He’s a bigger guy, but he’s not sloppy at all,” said Mangini. “I think he’s in pretty good shape. I like to think that collectively, we are in pretty good shape. He works at it and he’ll do some extra running during practice, which helps.”

“You just have to make sure you’re in shape,” Rubin said. “It’s always a good thing, especially with me. I’m taking a lot more plays this year, so I’ve got to make sure I keep in the rotation and keep making plays, good plays.”

Though he does not have the experience Rogers and some other Browns defensive linemen have, Rubin has done his homework to make sure he is prepared before stepping across the white lines on the football field.

“In just watching film, I’m getting more comfortable in my third year in the league,” said Rubin. “I’m just getting more comfortable with myself and reacting to the ball when the play is made and just hustling. There’s something in me that makes me want to get to the ball and make the play.

“After a while, you learn to see what you’re doing and build confidence in yourself,” he added. “Now, I feel like I can go out and compete with any team out there.”