Frostee Rucker, one of the more popular Bengals of the last decade, returns to town Sunday for the Paul Brown Stadium opener as the starting right end of the Browns. But even though he's a business owner on The Banks, he's trying to come in with as little fanfare as possible.
"I'm not going to give you anything for your board," Rucker said with a laugh Tuesday. "I'm just trying to use this game as an opportunity to showcase my abilities and try to help get a win. I'm looking forward to going back 71 and seeing some familiar faces."
After the Browns get here Saturday, Rucker plans to host some folks at his downtown frozen (should be Frostee) yogurt shop, Orange Leaf, where he plans to meet up with several old friends and he's got a lot of them.
On Tuesday he talked to The Dean, Robert Geathers, the longest-serving Bengal who was one of Rucker's mentors along the defensive front, and they no doubt commiserated on a tough Opening Day. Both clubs lost and Rucker is expecting a vintage AFC North slugfest on Sunday.
"I know what it's going to be like. I know how old Paul Brown gets rocking," Rucker said. "Those guys are my good friends and I'm looking forward to playing them."
Rucker, a third-round pick of the Bengals in 2006, signed a starter's deal in Cleveland after playing six seasons in the line's rotation. He says it's almost like looking in a mirror.
Not only did he miss a lot of training camp like Geathers and Carlos Dunlap with a knee injury, but the best Browns run-stopper, defensive tackle Phil Taylor, is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), as is one of the top Bengals run players, defensive tackle Pat Sims.
So both the Bengals and the Browns are going with rookies. While second-rounder Devon Still played 25 snaps at tackle and end and third-rounder Brandon Thompson played seven snaps at tackle for the Bengals, University of Cincinnati third-rounder John Hughes played 31 snaps at tackle and sixth-rounder Billy Winn added 65 in numbers compiled by profootballfocus.com.
"Just like the Bengals. Those young guys are doing a good job for us," Rucker said. "That's the way the NFL is now. Rookies are getting chances right away."
Rucker played 46 snaps, according to PFF, about double his usual workload. The Browns did surrender a 100-yard day to running back LeSean McCoy, but held the Eagles to 10 points until the final minute.
Rucker goes against 2006 classmate Andrew Whitworth and compares it to his practice matchups with Browns Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.
"They're about the same stature and same kind of talent," Rucker said. "Joe is a Pro Bowler and Big Whit has been probably robbed a couple of times. Both are massive guys that can move. I'll say what I said when I signed: It's going to be a good battle."
Word came down Wednesday before practice that the Browns have named Rucker a game captain for this Sunday.