BEREA—Ahtyba Rubin is a man of few words. His actions speak much louder than his words.
His play on the field and his example in the locker room has earned him the honor of being this week’s fourth captain. He joined captains Phil Dawson, Joe Thomas and D’Qwell Jackson in putting the players through stretching at the start of practice Wednesday.
“He’s a quiet and reliable guy,” Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a fine player.”
Shurmur told a story of this past off-season when a couple players left their lockers in disarray and later in the day, there was a note in all the lockers asking the players to clean up after themselves. Shurmur said he assumed it was from the equipment staff, but Rubin had taken it upon himself to address the problem.
Rubin, along with undrafted free agent Josh Cribbs, were probably the biggest gems that former Browns general manager Phil Savage uncovered during his tenure with the Browns.
Rubin (6-2, 330) was drafted in the sixth-round in 2008. He became a starter for the final five games of the 2009 season and has started 41-straight games for the Browns since.
Rubin is coming off his best season where he had 83 tackles and five sacks in 2011. He had 82 tackles and two sacks the previous year. He has been at the top of the NFL leaders for defensive linemen the past two seasons.
Shurmur was asked if Rubin was more of ‘throw back’ player who hustles and plays hard. He isn’t the type of player to pound his chest or make any gestures. Rather, he just runs back to the huddle and gets ready for the next play.
“I don’t know about (him being) a throwback, but the kind of guy he is, it’s about finding 53 guys that are dependable,” Shurmur said.
Shurmur said there is not a more dependable player than Rubin.
“He’s not late for anything,” he said. “He busts his tail in practice and he’s the type of guy you want other guys to watch.”
Rubin leads the defensive line with 15 tackles. He has one sack, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. Rubin is coming off his best game of the season where he posted six tackles, including a sack against the Ravens.
Rubin’s career-best game was against the Bengals on Dec. 19, 2010 when he had 10 tackles.
Rubin is just 26 years old, but is the third oldest player on the defensive line. The other two were brought in this past off-season as unrestricted free agent defensive ends: Juqua Parker (34) and Frostee Rucker (29).
Rubin thinks the Browns are close.
“We (played) good (last week), but we just have to make more plays,” Rubin said. “One or two more plays, here or there and we would have gotten over the hump.
“It’s real close,” he said. “We’ll stick together and try to make sure that we get a win in New York (this) week.”
Faithful Phil: K Phil Dawson just keeps sailing along. Thus far in 2012, Dawson is 8–of-8 on field goal attempts, including four-of-four on 50 plus yard attempts. He is also 7-of-7 on PAT’s.
Dawson, 37, has connected on 11 field goals from 50 yards or longer in the last 17 games. His career accuracy percentage of 83.5 percent is highest in team history.
“It goes without saying that he plays a position that scores points,” Shurmur said. “When we don’t get the ball in the end zone, he makes kicks.”
Shurmur has grown to really appreciate Dawson.
“There’s something about Phil,” he said. “He’s a winner and I’ve gained a huge appreciation for Phil. I appreciate everything he brings to the team. I can’t imagine a better kicker than Phil.”
The NFL record long field goal is 63 yards and Shurmur said he wouldn’t hesitate to let Dawson take a crack at that, if need be.
“If it’s a situation where we need to kick that field goal,” he said. “He can kick it there. The conditions sometimes dictate that.”
Shurmur said Dawson has made kicks from 65 yards in practice.
He said he doesn’t take what Dawson does for granted.
“That’s on my list,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted.”
Coughlin Take on Browns: Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he is impressed by what he’s seen in the winless Browns.
“I told our media to not be deceived by (the Browns) 0-4 record,” Coughlin said. “When I look at their production, I see a team that plays hard and has created opportunities for itself.”
Cribbs Back: Shurmur continued his tight lipped approach to injuries when asked before practice about certain players. He was asked about WR Josh Cribbs (concussion) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) before practice.
“Thanks for asking, but Cribbs will be out there,” he said.
“We’ll see, but thanks for asking,” he said. “I’ll let the afternoon injury report speak for itself.”
The injury report doesn’t have to be sent to the NFL league office until 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Massaquoi was not practicing during the time open to the media. Others not practicing were: WR Travis Benjamin (undisclosed), TE Alex Smith (concussion), DB Tashaun Gipson (undisclosed) and DB T.J. Ward (thumb surgery).
Shurmur was asked if he expected to make any roster moves today in his meeting with the media before practice.
“Not that we’re planning, right now.”
Speculation is with the Browns down a receiver or two, that rookie WR Josh Cooper would be elevated from the practice squad.
History can Wait: Shurmur was asked if he’d watch the special on NFL Network “Cleveland ‘95” which is set to air tonight. It is about the season Art Modell announced the move to Baltimore and how it affected Bill Belichick and his staff. Also, all of the assistants to Belichick and how they have went on the success in the NFL. Among those being Scott Pioli, Jim Schwartz, Eric Mangini, Ozzie Newsome among others.
“We’ll have to catch up on that after the season,” he said. “I’ll be made aware of it. The history is important, but I’m more concerned about the 2012 Browns.”