BEREA — The Browns have been waiting to finally get their two projected starting defensive tackles on the field together.
It happened on Thursday as Phil Taylor signed his contract and was on the field. Taylor is listed at 338 pounds and Ahtyba Rubin is 315, which is more than 650 pounds of girth on the defensive line.
Pat Shurmur said he would waste no time putting Taylor in there and that was the case.
“Players we are counting on will get in there and do it,” Shurmur said. “He’s a giant and he has held up pretty good.”
Taylor was lined up next to Rubin for the first time. With the trade for Broderick Bunkley falling through, the Browns have been trying to switch to the 4-3 despite being short-handed at tackle.
“It felt great to just be out with the guys practicing and things like that and learning the defense,” Taylor said. “I am still learning and taking it all in. It felt like I was redshirting again. You can’t get out there and play. It was hard, but I am here now and I am glad to be back.”
Rubin is excited to work with Taylor.
“He’s a pretty dominant player, a big guy and made a couple plays when he was at Baylor,” Rubin said. “So I’m looking forward to see what he does in the pro league.”
Although Rubin is switching from the 3-4 as a nose tackle to the 4-3, he feels the change will not be that difficult.
“I think it’s not going to be too different,” he said. “I think I learned a lot from the 3-4, stopping the run, being able to lock up and be stout. We just have to transition that over and just make sure we get to the passer this year.”
Rubin blossomed in 2010 and displaced Shaun Rogers as the nose tackle and now it’s his turn to mentor Taylor.
“I am learning every bit I can from the guys like Rubin,” he said. “The guys that were behind me were helping me out as well.”
Rubin thinks he will be able to build on his game and even have a better season this year.
“It’s my fourth year,” Rubin said. “I am kind of picking up the speed of the game a little better. I am learning how to be a better pro. I am just looking forward to going out and seeing what this season brings.”
The linebackers corps should become one of the biggest beneficiaries of having Rubin and Taylor up front.
“I’m glad we got him,” D’Qwell Jackson said Thursday. “Seeing him and Big Rube, I can’t wait to get in pads to see what he can do. Because I’ll be able to critique a couple things I’m doing.”
Haden Slowed: CB Joe Haden sat out Friday with a sore hamstring according to Pat Shurmur.
“He woke up a little sore and so we held him out.”
Injury Report: Other than WR Mo Massaquoi (foot), WR Jordan Norwood (undisclosed) and LB Sidney Tarver (undisclosed), all other players were back at practice. DL Jabari Fletcher an undrafted free agent from Appalachian State was carted off with a right knee injury. Shurmur said it was a ‘sprain’.
TE Ben Watson, OL Eric Steinbach, WR Carlton Mitchell and WR Josh Cribbs were all back in action.
Zebras Back: The NFL officials officiated practice as part of the league informing the players of rules changes. In the past, the Browns have had local officials, but this year have not thus far.
Phil’s Back: In his first day of practice, K Phil Dawson made all seven of the field goal attempts he was given in team drills, with a long of 45 yards. New punter Richmond McGee was the holder for Dawson.
Slow Go: RB Montario Hardesty was still held out of practice contact drills, but Shurmur said it’s all part of the plan.
“It’s all been a planned deal with Hardesty,” Shurmur said. “We have to be smart in his return to playing.”
Little Progress: WR Greg Little has been getting a lot of work with several receivers out and he’s had a mixed bag of results.
“He’s responded well,” Shurmur said. “He’s made some nice catches and plays and he’s handling the physical side of practice well.”
Little caught a pass and broke several tackles for a big gain in two-minute offense, but had the ball knocked out of his hands on a couple others.
Browns Backers in the House: Shurmur recognized the Browns Backers Worldwide for their presence at practice Friday.
“I’d like to recognize the Worldwide Browns Backers that are here today,” he said. “They are one of the most fantastic groups in the NFL and I’m glad they are here.”