Very rarely does the six-year NFL veteran talk, but he leaves in his wake quarterbacks in the backfield and running backs who thought they had found an opening in the Browns’ defensive front.
At 6-foot-2, 330 pounds, Rubin is an agile big man capable of making tackles well beyond the line of scrimmage, and he credits his prep coaches in Pensacola, Florida, with instilling that drive in him.
“Playing football, my coach always embedded in our heads, ‘Get to the ball. Get to the ball,’” Rubin recalled after a recent training-camp practice. “I just used that since I was little. I always wanted to get to the ball and make a play because you never know what’s going to happen.”
By chasing down the much shifty and slender running backs and wide receivers, Rubin sets an example for his teammates to follow.
“I guess that’s a good thing,” he laughed. “You don’t want a big guy passing you up, but with everybody running to the ball, nothing but good things are going to happen. It’s just a positive thing. I love when guys run to the ball.”
And now, Rubin is setting another example on the importance of being a versatile player.
After spending the first three years of his NFL career at nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme (2008-10) and then, shifting to defensive tackle (2011-12), Rubin has made the move from interior defensive lineman to left defensive end in the Browns’ 3-4 front under the direction of coordinator Ray Horton.
“It’s a good transition,” Rubin said. “I’ve got a good coach. Joe Cullen, he’s getting me right, getting all of the younger guys right. He’s a smart coach and is putting me in the right position to make plays.
“You’ve got more space, and more opportunities to get to the quarterback. That’s a good thing, and hopefully, I can get there a lot this year.”
Rubin’s selfless decision to shift to left defensive end and his hustle to the football have made an impression on head coach Rob Chudzinski, who was the Browns’ offensive coordinator during Rubin’s rookie season in 2008.
Chudzinski has seen a lot of growth from Rubin, who went from playing in 11 games as a rookie to starting at least 13 in each of the last three seasons.
“Rubin’s a self-made player,” Chudzinski said. “He’s relentless. He’s a high-effort guy. He’s going to do whatever you ask him to do, and he never complains. He goes at this thing with a lot of passion and desire, and so, whatever you ask him, whether it’s playing nose tackle, whether it’s playing defensive end, three-technique, five-technique, he’ll adjust to get it done. He’s a guy you can count on.
“I remember a young guy who really was a long ways away, but he’s a self-made man. When I first got the job and saw him when I turned the tape on and watched how he’s evolved and progressed, I told him that. He’s non-stop, 100 percent. You talk about a guy with a motor? He’s got it.”
Another thing Rubin has is an understanding of what being a Cleveland Brown is all about.
“I knew a lot about Cleveland,” Rubin said of what he knew about the team when he was drafted in 2008. “They have some of the best fans in the world. With Jim Brown, and the history they have of winning, when I heard I had the chance to come here, it meant a lot. Tradition came with it and a lot of pride.
“It grew. I live it now. I’m a Brown. To be able to walk and talk about the Browns and be able to interact with the fans and see how much they really care, it means a lot to me to be here and try to do good things and start winning.”
Rubin, a sixth-round pick out of Iowa State, is the only member of the Browns’ 2008 draft class that is still in Cleveland, and he knows what it will mean for the city when the team starts winning games.
“It’s going to erupt, happiness everywhere,” Rubin said. “Everybody’s going to be running around. I just see it right now. They deserve it. It’s been a long time coming. When it happens, it’s going to be tremendous.”