Expanded role lures Rucker: They gave me the keys


Frostee Rucker

A day after he signed with the Browns former Bengals defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said playing time is a driving force behind his spin up I-71.

"They pretty much told me I've got the keys to the car and I'm the starting right end," Rucker said Thursday. "I'm the oldest (D-lineman the Browns have)."

Despite never playing more than 45 percent of the snaps in six seasons with the Bengals, Cleveland gave the 28-year-old Rucker a $21 million deal over five years that included more than $8 million guaranteed and agent Jimmy Gould said the Browns made him their highest priority.

Rucker, coming off his best season with four sacks, said the lure of making a big impact on a young unit looking for a big-time contribution from a veteran appealed to him.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity to have more on my plate (when it comes to snaps)," Rucker said. "What we had going on in Cincinnati (a rotation) worked. ... But I always wanted to get chance to do more."

After a full-court press by Browns president Mike Holmgren, he got it.

"I talked with Mike, or Mr. Holmgren, or should I say, 'Coach' about a good hour," Rucker said. "We had a heart-to-heart about football. ... I'm ready to put my hand in the dirt and play some football. I opened up about my life and he told me some things about him. It was good feedback; it's like family, a good atmosphere."

Rucker, one of the more visible Bengals in the community with charities and outreach, talked about how he put his life back together in Cincinnati after he arrived in the third round out of USC shadowed by legal problems in 2006. But he never had problems as a Bengal.

"I've never looked back; I've been maturing," Rucker said on how he wants to be a leader for the Browns.

The Browns were 10th in defense last season, but 30th against the run and Rucker played a lot of his snaps on running plays for a defense that finished 10th against the run.

"Playing (for) Mike Zimmer, that's the way I was bred," Rucker said of the Bengals defensive coordinator.

"To play against a Pittsburgh, a Baltimore, I know what it takes to play those teams," Rucker said of staying in the AFC North. "It's going to be nice to be real familiar with teams and players and personnel and how they operate. (With the Bengals) there are some tendencies I learned and picked up and I'm sure I'll be able to help those guys."

On his upcoming matchup with left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the man the Bengals took the round before Rucker in 2006, he offered he'll be around awhile: "It should be an interesting battle for many years to come."

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