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Gipson has made an impression

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Rookie safety Tashaun Gipson has gone from undrafted free agent to starting defensive back in the NFL in a matter of 15 regular-season games.

When members of the Cleveland Browns’ personnel department watched tape of the University of Wyoming's football games in 2011, they saw something in safety Tashaun Gipson.

Gipson started in each of 50 career games and registered nine interceptions, the fourth-most in school history. During his senior season, Gipson had 95 total tackles and three interceptions. Although he was an effective defensive back in college, Gipson went undrafted and was signed as a free agent by the Browns on May 9, 2012.

Since that point, Gipson has done everything in his power to make an impact on the field. It earned him a roster spot coming out of training camp and now, has him in a position to make his third career start for the Browns at Denver on Sunday.

“I feel real good about Gipson,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s done a very nice job for us in there. He communicates well. He’s a good athlete. We’ve seen him intercept passes. He does all the things you need from a safety and I’m looking forward to him having a good game.

“All the things that I just mentioned make him a guy that was worthy of making the team. We knew quite a bit about him. We brought him in because we liked him, but once they’re here, you’ve got to see them in training camp. He is what we thought he was. He’s done well. It’s not an easy position to play, safety, because you get involved in tackling, but as soon as you get too involved, they throw something over your head. There needs to be some instincts there and he showed us that he has those.”

Earlier this week, the Browns placed third-year safety T.J. Ward on injured reserve and have slated Gipson to start in his place opposite Usama Young in the secondary.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all of our young players,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “Tashaun’s role will increase some. Usama’s snaps will go up because we’re rotating three. It’s a great opportunity for them to play against an outstanding football team. Clearly, it’s not just the quarterback. It’s not just Peyton (Manning). They’ve got a really good football team around him. It’ll be beneficial to their development, and hopefully, they can and we can perform well.”

Gipson made his first career start in a win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 25 at Cleveland Browns Stadium. When Young was unable to play at Oakland the following week because of a concussion, Gipson not only made the start, but led the team with a career-best eight tackles.

“He’s an undrafted free agent and from the first time that you see him on the field, you recognize that he’s got athletic skills,” Jauron recalled. “Then, of course, you just wonder why he wasn’t a draft pick. You like to say that it doesn’t matter how they get to your camp. Everybody starts equal and will play, but there’s always some doubt. You say, ‘Well, there’s got to be something here. There’s got to be something that’s missing.’ We never found it.

“From almost the first day on, he prepares well. He works hard. He’s been tough on the field. He tackles well. He moves well. We think we found one and our personnel department did a terrific job.”