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Browns NT Ahtyba Rubin has learned well from Shaun Rogers — well enough that Rogers, the Browns' starting nose tackle the past two seasons, may get more playing time at defensive end to get Rubin onto the field more frequently in 2010.
In an interview with PFW this week, the 6-2, 330-pound Rubin marveled at Rogers' athleticism and credited him for teaching him how to better understand opponent strategies and tendencies. "He basically got me reading the formations better," Rubin said of Rogers, who is taking part in the club's organized team activities (OTAs) this week but is limited as he recovers from a broken ankle that ended his 2009 season after 11 games.
Rubin, who turns 24 in July, impressed when he got a chance to start in place of Rogers at the end of the '09 campaign, notching 14 tackles in five starts and thriving with increased playing time. Such was Rubin's progress that head coach Eric Mangini has hinted that Rogers could move to end in the Browns' 3-4 scheme this season.
"We talked about that a little bit," Mangini told Cleveland reporters at the club's rookie minicamp in May, "and have to take a look at it, I think, have to see how (it) looks and look at (Rogers) at the right side and the left side.
"I think Rubin did a nice job last year. I'm excited about seeing his continued growth. I think he played well and I think he made a really strong case to continue to play and that's a good thing."
Rogers, 31, could face NFL discipline after being charged with carrying a concealed weapon in April. He has pled not guilty to the charge.
A sixth-round pick in the '08 draft, Rubin appeared in 11 games as a rookie, recording 11 tackles. He received more playing time last season, notching 38 tackles, which tied for second most on the club among defensive linemen.
In the offseason, Rubin, whose primary responsibility in the Browns' 3-4 scheme is to occupy two gaps, take on double-teams and clear space for linebackers to flow to the ball, has worked on improving his pass-rush ability. In addition to film study and work in the weight room, he has introduced some mixed martial arts training into his workout regimen. The MMA workouts, held at the Browns' facilities, involve getting the "hands moving fast, hips moving good," Rubin said.
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