BEREA, Ohio — It’s been a big season for Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger.
Kruger has had the type of year the Browns imagined when they signed him to a large unrestricted free agent contract in 2013.
Kruger picked up his team-leading 10th sack last week against the Bengals and is just four shy of the Browns franchise record of 14 set by Reggie Camp in the 1980s. Sacks didn’t become an official statistic of the NFL until that time.
"We’re hoping to get him 14-plus," defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said. "That way, he can break the franchise record."
Kruger had 4.5 sacks in his first year with the Browns after coming from the Ravens where he had nine sacks in the regular season with Baltimore and concluded with two sacks in the Super Bowl after the 2012 season.
O’Neil was asked what the difference was playing in his system versus last year’s defensive scheme under Ray Horton.
"I can’t speak about last year because I wasn’t here, but I think Paul has done a really nice job," O’Neil said. "We’ve obviously changed a lot technique-wise from what he’s been used to, our system compared to previous systems that he might have played in. I think (assistant linebackers coach) Brian Fleury has done a great job with him.
"I think Paul bought into the fact that we have to stop the run early, get teams behind the sticks and that’s going to allow me to go rush the passer," O’Neil said. "That’s obviously the best thing he’s done, and I’m happy for him. I’m happy he got double-digit sacks."
In addition to a career-best 10 sacks, Kruger has 41 tackles on the season, four passes broken up and three forced fumbles.
Century Mark for Rubin: Sunday will mark the 100th career game of DL Ahtyba Rubin since joining the Browns as a sixth-round draft pick in 2008.
Pettine said that Rubin has battled through some injuries this season and continued to play when the Browns were thin on the defensive line.
"That’s a factor for sure," Pettine said. "I know he’s tough, and he’s been through a lot. He’s battled through some things that maybe some other guys would have shut it down. To me, it speaks to the kind of competitor that he is. He’s played some good football for sure, and hopefully another good game this week and one in Baltimore. Who knows after that?"
Rubin, 28, has 27 tackles on the season, including one sack.
Haden Questionable: CB Joe Haden (shoulder) was able to practice on a limited basis Friday and is questionable as a game time decision. The only two players ruled out were DB Tashaun Gipson (knee) and DB K’Waun Williams (hamstring).
WR Andrew Hawkins (illness) returned to practice Friday. LB Karlos Dansby (knee), TE Gary Barnidge (ribs), DB Robert Nelson (hamstring), WR Marlon Moore (knee) and LB Jabaal Sheard (foot) are all listed as questionable.