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TE Rucker Ready for the 09 Season

For another week or so, Martin Rucker will enjoy his time away from the game.

He plans to come back ready, though ready to tackle the playbook and training camp, ready for a bigger role individually, ready for whatever his second professional season might entail. In addition to the natural progression a player makes from his rookie season to future ones, Rucker’s readiness includes being prepared from day one of training camp on Aug. 1.

Last year, when Rucker was playing behind three veteran tight ends and suffered a knee injury in the Browns’ first preseason game, he knew his opportunities wouldn’t come until later in the season, if at all. That was unfamiliar territory for a player who started 50 consecutive games — a school record — in his college career at Missouri. He didn’t return to practice until early October, and didn’t make his “real” NFL debut until Nov. 30 against the Colts. Rucker ended up playing in five games with one start; he caught 2 passes for 17 yards.

“I feel like I am ready for more now,” Rucker said. “Being here in the NFL, period, is a great opportunity. I have to seize it.”

The Browns’ OTA sessions and minicamps brought Rucker the kinds of opportunities he hopes he’ll continue to get. With Kellen Winslow traded to Tampa Bay in March, Darnell Dinkins gone to New Orleans and Steve Heiden not participating while recovering from offseason knee surgery, Rucker got plenty of first and second team reps during the spring, often playing along with new veteran acquisition Robert Royal. Rucker said the spring work went “well. I was learning day by day.

I knew what to expect a little (more than in 2008) but getting a new coaching staff is sort of like starting all over again”It’s a process. Every day you messed some things up you have to go back the next day and try not to do it again. You get in the classroom, you ask questions when you need to and you stay focused on what the objectives are.”

“After playing in a spread offense in a variety of roles in college, Rucker had to adjust to being a hand-on-the-ground tight end in the NFL, as well as playing on special teams. Those transitions will continue next month, and Rucker is eager to gauge his progress. “I feel like I’m a better player,” he said. “I got stronger in the weight room and I worked hard on perfecting my craft. I’m a better player in every area. “I’m excited. I’m ready to get going.”

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3 Responses to “TE Rucker Ready for the 09 Season”

  1. Clayton says:

    With just two catches last season, this practically speaking will be Martin’s rookie year. He surely will get more snaps, but I doubt he will get many more if Heiden’s knee is fully recovered because I think that Royal will get a fair amount of playing time. Rucker could help himself with a few more pounds.

  2. Denolakes says:

    Think he has learned to block? Or is he just another TE- wide out in obvious passing downs? My guess is this is his bubble year — and he will be gone after that.

  3. ButchGavlen says:

    I think part of the reason Royal is here is he and Hieden are grooming and teaching him. Steve is also already getting up there.

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