September 18, 2014

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Browns Notes: Safety Tashaun Gipson excited to play Saturday after avoiding serious knee injury

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, left, catches a pass against free safety Tashaun Gipson during training camp. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, left, catches a pass against free safety Tashaun Gipson during training camp. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

BEREA — Free safety Tashaun Gipson roamed the deep part of the field and closed in on the line of scrimmage Wednesday during team drills. It was a welcome sight after he left practice Friday with a left knee injury.

“Anytime something like that happens, you are a little worried,” Gipson said. “You’re praying for the best, but I knew it wasn’t too serious because it happened in the very beginning of practice and I practiced (for a long time) and it was just a little tender.

“I really wasn’t too worried, but you really just never know.”

Gipson missed the scrimmage Saturday and practice Monday before returning in limited capacity Tuesday. The recovery’s been so smooth, coach Mike Pettine expects him to start Saturday in the preseason opener at Detroit.

“Anytime you can be able to go into a live situation, I mean I thrive on that kind of thing,” Gipson said. “You know, we have a lot of new guys and we want to be able to see all of the pieces together. We want those 11 guys who are going to be out there on Sundays and we want to see what they look like together.

“I think that’s exciting for us to come out on Saturday, so I definitely wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Gipson suffered a slight sprain when a lineman rolled into his planted knee.

“I wasn’t worried about falling behind,” he said. “I knew I was going to be mentally prepared.”

The Browns added depth to the safety position last week with the signing of veteran and Pettine favorite Jim Leonhard. He and Jordan Poyer shared time in Gipson’s spot in his absence.

“Jim Leonhard, he’s a veteran,” Gipson said. “He’s smart. He’s crafty. I listen to a lot of things that he tells me.

“Anytime you’ve been in the league 10 years, that long, that’s a blessing in itself. You have to be doing something right. I definitely listen to him and he talks to me and I take notes.”

OLDER THAN HIS YEARS

Rookie inside linebacker Chris Kirksey kept the defense in orange jerseys for practice Thursday. On fourth-and-goal from the 3, Kirksey broke up a pass from Johnny Manziel to tight end Jim Dray on the goal line.

“He’s been great,” Pettine said of Kirksey, a third-round pick. “If you just were an observer at practice and didn’t have a roster, you wouldn’t think he was a rookie.

“He’s great on the practice field. He asks the right questions. He’s been very engaging in the meeting rooms.”

Kirksey is battling incumbent Craig Robertson for the starting spot next to veteran Karlos Dansby. Even if Kirksey doesn’t win the job, he could open the season in the nickel package because of his coverage skills.

“That’s one thing we knew he could do,” Pettine said. “The one thing we didn’t get a lot of looks at from his college tape was being an inside-the-box linebacker. We just felt a lot better when he got here and realized that this kid’s a complete linebacker.”

INJURY REPORT

  • Tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder) didn’t practice and was ruled out for Saturday, but Pettine said he should be OK for next week.
  • Offensive lineman Alex Parsons was driven into the field house after injuring his right knee.
  • Dray (shoulder) returned to practice and caught a touchdown from Manziel.
  • Inside linebacker Tank Carder (foot) practiced for the second time in camp.
  • Inside linebacker Darius Eubanks (shoulder) and offensive linemen Michael Bowie (shoulder), Randall Harris (knee), Reid Fragel (lower leg) and Nick McDonald (wrist) didn’t practice.
  • Left tackle Joe Thomas (veteran) and receiver Travis Benjamin (knee) rested.

IN AND OUT

The bottom of the 90-man roster remains unsettled after 10 practices as general manager Ray Farmer continues to dig for diamonds in the rough. After Tuesday’s practice alone, he waived defensive back Darwin Cook and signed four players with no NFL experience.

“Ray’s staying busy. He’s just not bunkering in on next year’s draft,” Pettine said. “He’s going to work the roster and constantly looking for … there’s a lot of different ways to add talent to your roster.

“Sometimes it’s a guy maybe you’ve had an eye on that comes free or it’s because of a need where you have a guy that you lose to an injury and you want to make sure that you’re not putting the other guys at that position at undue risk because they’re getting too many repetitions.”

EXTRA POINTS

  • The Browns and USA Football will host 150 Northeast Ohio football mothers today for a safety clinic. The clinic, designed to educate moms about the improved safety in the game, will include discussion of concussion awareness and proper nutrition and hydration. Cleveland Browns Foundation president Dee Haslam, wife of owner Jimmy; Vernet Farmer, wife of GM Ray; and Chris Golic, wife of ESPN’s Mike, will be among the speakers.
  • Cornerback Buster Skrine ripped the ball out of receiver Josh Gordon’s hands to turn a completion into an incompletion.
  • Former Elyria Catholic and Ohio State star Matt Wilhelm, who works for WKNR 850-AM, watched practice.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.

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