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Browns Gain Depth As Shaun Rogers Rejoins D-line


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BEREA: Although he figures he could, Shaun Rogers isn't interested in mixing in with the offense upon his return to the Browns' lineup.


But he is open to moving around on the defensive line if need be.


''I'm an athlete for sure,'' said Rogers, a veteran nose tackle. ''I like to play a lot, but I stay in my zone. I'm a better D-lineman than I am a wide receiver or tight end.''


Rogers, 6-foot-4, 350 pounds, returned to practice Monday after he missed training camp and four exhibition games recovering from a broken left ankle that required surgery late last season.


In his first formal interview with reporters in nearly 10 months, Rogers said he's fine with his potential shift on the line.


''If that's what they ask me to do, it's still the D-line,'' he said. ''As long as you don't ask me to play wide out, I think we'll be all right.''


With the emergence of Ahtyba Rubin, Browns coach Eric Mangini sees the ability to mix and match Rogers as needed.


''Rubin has earned the right to play, and Rubin will play,'' Mangini said Monday.


But how much and where won't be known until the Browns' season opener Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida.


''Whatever they ask out of me,'' Rogers said. ''It's still a process we're going through trying to get the best of me out there. So whatever I'm allowed to do, and whatever they think's best, I'm going to do.''


Originally drafted in the second round by the Detroit Lions in 2001, Rogers was traded to the Browns in March 2008 for Leigh Bodden and a third-round pick in the draft that year. Last season, Rogers started 11 games at nose tackle and recorded 36 tackles (24 solo) and two sacks before injuring his ankle in late November at Cincinnati.


''He's a big man,'' Mangini said. ''You gotta account for him. Since he's at the first level, usually that means blockers stay on him longer. . . . That being said, I think Rubin does a lot of the same things because he's got good size and ties up a lot of blockers as well.''


In what originally appeared to be a huge loss when Rogers went down, Rubin, just in his second year, stepped up in the last five games of last season. Even Rogers couldn't help but be impressed.


Rubin's improvement has been ''tremendous,'' Rogers said. ''Rubin is a solid nose tackle and looks like he's going to play this game for a long time. I'm real proud of him. We've worked together and I've tried to give him as much knowledge as I can, and he's using it.''


But that doesn't mean Rogers is prepared to step aside just yet. He said he's working hard to gradually increase his repetitions in practice in hopes of making the opener.


''There's always a learning curve,'' Rogers said. ''Every year is a new year and there's things you've got to learn — defenses, chemistry. I'm happy to be back and working to develop all those things. . . . You don't win games in meetings. You gotta go out and produce and feed off each other.''


After spending his career toiling with the Lions and Browns — going 40-104 during that stretch — one might think Rogers would prefer to end his career with a winner.


''Everybody wants to be on a winner,'' he said. ''But individuals have to do [their] part. So providing the best me, I feel, is always the right way to go. . . . It's always frustrating to lose. But this game builds character in so many forms. All I do is play hard and try to win.''


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