Ahtyba Rubin has spent nearly two seasons watching every move Shaun Rogers makes. Now it's Rubin's time to step in for him.
With three-time Pro Bowler Rogers headed for injured reserve with a lower left leg/ankle problem that will require surgery, Rubin will make his first career start in Sunday's home game against San Diego. The sixth-round pick from Iowa State in 2008 has seen action in 23 games over two seasons.
''It’s not too much pressure, just football,'' Rubin said Monday. ''Just go out there and practice every week and try to produce on Sunday.''
Rubin was wise enough to sit with Rogers in defensive line meetings and pick the brain of the nine-year veteran.
''He gives me little tips here and there, how to get off the ball and how to read the o-linemen,'' Rubin said. Asked the best advice he received, Rubin said, ''Recognize where the run’s coming from, formations, confidence in myself that I can play in this league. Try to step up and be a force.''
Browns coach Eric Mangini said Rubin has come a long way this season.
Asked what he's done better, Mangini said, ''He's very good with his hands and his hand placement inside the center's chest. He's gotten better with shedding the blocker and being more patient with shedding the blocker. If the running back's starting to your right and you throw him off too early and go to your right, he'll cut back to the void you'll create. So you've got to be patient and know the right time to throw the offensive player off. I think that's improved for him. His block recognition, understanding where the double teams are going to come from, what his reaction should be on those blocks. All things that come with time and experience.''
Rubin has probably been playing at least 30 percent of the snaps, with Mangini giving the 360-pound Rogers time to rest.
''He played pretty stout,'' defensive lineman Corey Williams said of Rubin. ''He's been playing well, helping the defense out, being another big stud in the middle to replace Shaun. He's got his hands full.''