Rubin, a man the Seahawks call Tuba, is an important cog along the defensive line, mostly because of what he can do when teams try to run the ball against Seattle.

Share story

By the very nature of his position, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin is a mostly anonymous piece of a high-profile and high-priced Seahawks defense. But what he lacks in notoriety — or stats, for that matter — he makes up for with the praise he receives from teammates and coaches.

Which is why it’s important that the Seahawks re-signed Rubin to a three-year contract Monday night, the first move in what could be a busy offseason for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

Rubin, a man the Seahawks call Tuba, is an important cog along the defensive line, mostly because of what he can do when teams try to run the ball against Seattle.

At his best, Rubin acts like a slab of cement. He makes life hard for offensive linemen, and even if he doesn’t make many tackles himself — just 36 last season — he allows Seattle’s linebackers and defensive backs to do their jobs.

The Seahawks entered this offseason with questions along their defensive line: With Rubin and veteran defensive tackle Brandon Mebane both free agents, how would they address the interior of their defensive line? Would they rework a deal with Michael Bennett? The signing of Rubin, who will turn 30 before next season, offers some stability for that position group, but what it means for Mebane or Bennett is unclear.

On his weekly show on 710 ESPN last season, Carroll called Rubin the “most effective” and the “most consistent” player at his position since Carroll was hired in 2010.

“He just won’t budge,” Carroll said. “The harder it gets, the tougher he gets and the more he ain’t going to move anywhere. That position in our defense … there’s a lot of plays that go right at him and he gets doubled a bunch. He’s fantastic at doing that, so he has been instrumental.”

When Carroll talked about Rubin, he usually talked about two traits that seemed to stand in contrast of each other.

The first was just how difficult it was for teams to move Rubin at the line of scrimmage — the whole cement-wall idea. The Seahawks allowed the fewest rushing yards per game last season, and Carroll said, “You can’t do those kinds of numbers without that kind of play starting right there.”

The other point Carroll made about Rubin was that he always ran hard to the ball. It is as simple of a concept as there is, but all 325 pounds of Rubin chased down the field after whoever had the ball, all the time.

Before the season, Carroll told reporters to watch for that trait, and he predicted that at some point Rubin’s pursuit would pay off in a big way.

Five months later, in a 10-9 playoff win against Minnesota, Rubin chased Vikings running back Adrian Peterson 10 yards down the field, and when Peterson fumbled the ball, Rubin recovered it for the Seahawks. After the game, Rubin’s teammates gushed not just about that specific play but also what it said about Rubin.

“It was so incredible for me to see it,” safety Earl Thomas said. “All I could do was help him up, but trust me I was his No. 1 cheerleader.”

“He’s a warrior down there,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “That’s one thing about Rube: He’ll run. No matter where the ball is at, he’s running to it.”

“It’s not normal for 325-pound linemen to be all the way down the field,” linebacker Bruce Irvin said.

Those two traits, plus the hole the Seahawks had inside along the defensive line, helped lead to his return to Seattle.