View Full Version : Rubin vs. Pouncey for Sunday's finale

12-30-2010, 08:46 PM
BEREA: Maurkice Pouncey is one up on on Ahtyba Rubin.

Pouncey, the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie center, was named as a reserve to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. He is the first Steelers rookie offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since tackle Frank Varrichione was selected in 1956 and the first Steelers rookie to make it since linebacker Kendrell Bell was selected in 2002.

''I told you guys all along he is one of the best in the game,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said to reporters earlier this week. ''He is going to be the best. The sky is the limit for him.''

The Browns think the same of Rubin, their third-year nose tackle.

''During the game, you're doing your job, but afterwards we watch film and you see [Rubin's] effort,'' Browns veteran defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman said. ''Guys his size (6-foot-2, 330 pounds) aren't supposed to be able to do that. It's pretty impressive. It's not just he hustles; he's a great player and that just makes him even more special.''

It will make for great matchups for the foreseeable future as the young stars battle twice per season in the AFC North.

''Hopefully, it'll be a battle that's around for years to come,'' Rubin said of Pouncey, who was the 18th overall pick in the draft. ''He's a great player, a high-motor guy and he's in the Pro Bowl. So he's a big challenge coming up Sunday.''

Rubin and Pouncey met for the first time in Pittsburgh in Week 6.

''I was pretty much expecting [a tough battle],'' Rubin said. ''Coming out as a rookie, I know I had a high motor. And watching film on Pouncey and knowing that with him just coming into the NFL, I knew he'd want to come in and make every play.

''That's what he did and what I expected him to do. And he's still doing it. That's what got him into the Pro Bowl his high motor and his energy.''

Those are the same qualities that have made Rubin such a find for the Browns, especially with veteran lineman Shawn Rogers besieged with ankle and hip injuries this season.

Rubin was drafted in the sixth round (190th overall) of the 2008 draft out of Iowa State. He has blossomed this season.

In his rookie year, Rubin played 12 games in a reserve role. Last season he really began to make strides, playing in all 16 games with five starts at the end of the season. This season, he leads all NFL defensive linemen with 79 total tackles, including a career-high 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 19.

Rubin said he attributes his success to ''running and hustling to the ball.''

''If you look at it, most of my plays are five or [more] yards down the field,'' he said.

He said he wants his offseason focus to be on getting in the backfield more.

''The thing I'm going to work on more after the season is making more tackles behind the line of scrimmage,'' said Rubin, who has two sacks and an interception.

Although the Browns lost 28-10 in their first meeting with the Steelers this season, coach Eric Mangini said Rubin's play stood out.

''I was showing some clips from the last game to the guys and it was on [Rashard] Mendenhall's run where we had him backed up, and it looked like he was tackled and then he bounced out,'' Mangini said. ''Rubin is flying to get over there and it was 25 yards down the the field.

''Even last game against Baltimore he's showing up on the screen every play. This is a big man, and his effort is just outstanding. He's strong, he plays with good technique, he cares and he's tough. It's not an accident that he leads the NFL for a defensive lineman in tackles; he's earned that.''

Rubin smiled after hearing that Mangini mentioned how well Rubin fared against the 6-foot-4, 304-pound Pouncey the first time.

''Yeah, we had a couple tussles here and there, and he knocked my helmet off,'' Rubin said. ''But it's a good battle. Hopefully, it'll be a battle I can look forward to for years to come because I like playing against him. Plus, it's the Steelers. You gotta beat them.''

Rubin also understands what it means playing the Steelers, too.

''That's something you have to take on as a Browns player,'' Rubin said. ''The fans hate 'em, I gotta hate 'em; it's a football thing. The fans really, really want this one, so I'm going to try and give it to them.''