Frostee warming up to BrownsBy Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service
BEREA, Ohio — Frostee Rucker never expected to be playing for a different team.
"Leading up to free agency, I thought the Bengals were going to make a move and do the right thing by re-signing me," Rucker said. "Not to say they didn't offer anything, but they didn't make the right push for someone who had been in their program for six years and connected to the community."
Shunned by the team that originally drafted him, the defensive end signed a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, and it's working out well so far. By all accounts, he's having a good camp.
"Being in Cleveland has been phenomenal," Rucker said. "From top to bottom the organization has been helpful in my transition. They know it's a unique situation being in the same division, not to mention the rivalry versus Cincinnati.
"Everyone here has been first-class about it. I have some solid teammates here, and we want to win."
Rucker was picked by Cincinnati in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 53 regular-season games with 19 starts, totaling 105 tackles, seven sacks, six passes defended, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
In 2011, he came into his own with career highs in tackles (44) and sacks (4) for the Bengals.
But it wasn't enough for the Bengals to keep him.
"Cleveland was the first team that called," Rucker said. "I got on a plane, came here and sat down with the coaches and management. They made me a believer right away. I wanted to be a part of something in the growing stages. The formula in place here works and will be a beautiful thing for the city when it happens. I think we are a play or two away from getting something special done."
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Rucker rarely got to showcase his talent consistently in the Bengals' rotating defensive line. But the Browns took notice of his performance, having to face him twice a year, as head coach Pat Shurmur has noted.
The seven-year pro, with his ability to rush the passer and stop the run, likely will see duty on all three downs with the Browns. He brings experience and leadership to a young defense and is expected to start at right defensive end opposite Jabaal Sheard, who led the Browns with 8.5 sacks last season.
"I’ve been well-coached by (Bengals defensive coordinator) Mike Zimmer and that speaks for itself,” Rucker said. "The way he took our defense in Cincinnati and turned it around was incredible. Now I have Dick Jauron as my defensive coordinator and there’s no slack off. Being well-coached and groomed, I’m ready to lead by example on defense."
Rucker added that some of the toughest games he played while with Cincinnati were against Cleveland. But he's ready to write a new chapter to his playing career with the Browns.
So what is it going to be like when he has to face his former team this season?
"When I play ball I do a lot of talking (laugh)," Rucker said. "I think that's going to be one of the games where I don't say anything because I know the guys. Usually, you're just saying random stuff because you don't really know the guy. But all those guys are still my friends. However, it will be an intense and a hard-fought game.
"And I’m rooting for the Browns."