BEREA, Ohio -- One year ago, all defensive back
A year after making the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent from the University of Wyoming, and starting three games and registering 29 total tackles, as well as an interception, Gipson is competing for a starting job at free safety. He calls it a “dream come true.”
“I couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Gipson said after Friday’s practice. “Last year, if somebody told me I’d be starting this year, I probably wouldn’t have taken it seriously, but I’m blessed to be in this situation, first and foremost.
“When things like this happen, when God blesses you with things like this, you’ve got to take advantage of them. Right now, I’m taking advantage of it, not looking back. This is fun out here competing. We’ve got good guys back there. I’m just excited to be a part of this.”
Coach Rob Chudzinski has taken notice of Gipson’s efforts and seen improvement from him.
“I’ve been pleased with Tashaun,” Chudzinski said. “He’s really shown a lot, just from a coverage standpoint. He’s a solid player. He’s smart. He works at it. He understands football, has good football sense, and he’s shown some good coverage skills out here.”
Gipson also expressed excitement about lining up next to T.J. Ward, the Browns’ fourth-year strong safety, and one of the most tenured defensive backs in Cleveland.
“I look up to T.J.,” Gipson said. “He’s one of the better safeties in this league, and I look up to him for his knowledge. Being back there is fun with a guy who’s been through this. It’s year four for him, and his knowledge of the game has helped me back there. We’ve jelled together, and I feel like it’s a good team.”
Part of learning from Ward involved the mental aspect of the game.
While Gipson spent the 2013 offseason working on his physical game when he was on the field, he also took a mental approach to it. By making the effort of learning the mental side of the game, Gipson felt it made him a more effective safety.
“I wanted to make sure my game was sharp,” Gipson said. “Coming out there last year, starting a couple games and playing in a lot of them, I got my feet wet, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be at mentally. I wanted make strides last year, and I felt like I’m doing that as far as progressions, reads on the quarterback, just being able to come out there and be a better football player. It all starts mentally.
“It was coming in here and honestly, just proving and taking a leap from year one to year two. It really wasn’t a personal vendetta to prove anything to anyone. I wanted to come in here and show the coaches that I’m a valuable player, and that they can depend on me as a second-year player. I feel I’ve done that, mentally and physically, and I’m just excited about the opportunity I have.”