<
>

Ahtyba Rubin could be latest of late arrivals to carve out a Broncos role

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- They are the better-late-than-never club, those seemingly annual late arrivals to the Denver Broncos who often end up with prominent roles by the time a season is said and done.

In 2012, safety Jim Leonhard, linebacker Keith Brooking and center Dan Koppen arrived in training camp and went on to be regulars for a team that went on to win its second of five consecutive AFC West titles. In 2013, it was linebacker Paris Lenon, who played in 14 games for a team that went to the Super Bowl. In 2015, guard Evan Mathis signed in August and was in the starting lineup shortly afterward for a Broncos team that went on to win the Super Bowl. And in 2016, as free agency was slowing to a crawl in April, the Broncos signed defensive end Jared Crick, and he went on to play more snaps than any other defensive lineman on the roster.

This time around, maybe, just maybe, it will defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin. The Broncos signed Rubin earlier this month when Crick went to injured reserve with a back injury.

Rubin is in his 10th year in the NFL. He has started 107 games in his career, including every game of the last two seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. That's a Seahawks team that finished No. 5 in total defense in 2016, No. 2 in '15.

"He's played with a great defense, at a high level, he knows what it looks like," said Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. "... I don’t think it will be too difficult a transition for him. Happy he's here."

The Broncos defensive front played well in the first two weeks of the season, as the Chargers and Cowboys rushed for just 64 and 40 yards, respectively. Denver isn't likely to change things up too much, with Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko and Adam Gotsis in the starting lineup.

But defensive coordinator Joe Woods has repeatedly said he'd like more of a rotation up front, and with Crick's injury there will be room for Zach Kerr and Rubin to play. Kerr has also been out since suffering a knee injury in the Broncos' Aug. 26 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

For his part, Rubin went from being released by the Seahawks after the team acquired Sheldon Richardson from the Jets to joining a defense that expects to be one of the league's best.

"I'm more than thrilled to come here," Rubin said just after his arrival. "I'm on a winning team, left another winning team to come to an even better team. I'm happy, I can't do anything but be ecstatic."

The Broncos held Rubin out of Sunday's win over the Cowboys, as Wolfe, Gotsis and Harris played 52, 44 and 33 snaps, respectively -- or 73, 62 and 43 percent of the defense's snaps. Rubin figures to get at least some work this Sunday in Buffalo.

The Bills feature another run-first offense with a running back -- LeSean McCoy -- the Broncos are going to want to keep hemmed in.

"I think I can fit into this scheme," Rubin said. "I played some 3-4 when I first got into the league [with the Cleveland Browns] and I think I can get in there and help stop the run if they need me to do that. ... But whenever they want me to play, I'll be ready to play."