Of the tattoos adorning the arms and upper body of
It says: “Blessed.”
The word best describes how Gipson felt when he joined the Browns last year as an undrafted rookie free agent, earned a roster spot, and then, made three starts.
Now, Gipson is preparing to begin his second NFL season next to fourth-year safety T.J. Ward with the Browns’ first-string defense. And although he is a starter, Gipson still considers himself blessed -- and he still has the mindset of an undrafted free agent.
“I believe that this grind and all the hard work this offseason has paid off, but at the same time, it doesn’t stop here just because I’ve been named the starter,” Gipson said. “I don’t think anything will change. I’m going to continue to grind like I’m fighting for my job every day.
“I knew I wasn’t an established player, therefore, nothing was going to be given to me. I expected those things to happen. I expected that I was going to have to be in a dog fight, whether they bring somebody in as a free agent or guys like
“You can’t get overwhelmed by a lot of things because this game can be overwhelming sometimes, especially for an undrafted guy where nothing’s promised to you,” Gipson said. “You’re kind of on a day-to-day contract. You’ve got take that and get better. You can’t make the same mistakes twice, and at the end of the day, that’s really what’s going to keep you around.”
Gipson has done a little bit more than just stay around with the Browns.
He registered 29 total tackles, including 23 solo stops, one interception, and four special-teams tackles in 10 games with the Browns last season. He was one of 26 NFL rookies to collect an interception last season, and his takeaway of a tipped pass from Kansas City quarterback Brady Quinn, one in which he returned 23 yards, helped to set up a Browns field goal in the 30-7 win.
Midway through the preparations for last Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, Gipson was named the Browns’ starting free safety.
“Since I’ve been here, since May of 2012, I’ve been having to prove myself to the coaches, the organization, so that’s nothing new,” Gipson said. “I’m definitely excited for this challenge. I definitely want Coach (Ray) Horton to be 100 percent secure in me and my abilities on the back end.
“In this business, confidence is key. You’ve got to have confidence. I went in with the mindset that somebody was going to have to take this position from me, physically beat me and take this position from me. We have a bunch of good, younger guys like myself who were competing for this spot, and we just all left it in the organization’s hands. We just did what we had to do on the field.”
Gipson said he “absolutely” feels like he is a better safety, physically and mentally, compared to the end of the 2012 regular season. Part of that development is due to the change in responsibilities.
“Being back there, the safeties are required to be more vocal,” Gipson said. “We’ve definitely got to be on top of our game because any slip in our game, we can have a bad set along the whole back. We’re responsible for a lot more things back there. With great challenges come great responsibilities, and I’m excited for the challenges and am accepting the responsibilities.
“I’m a year into the game, and I definitely think that that paid dividends for me to play as much as I did last year. I feel like I’ve progressed as a player and that’s what’s led me to the situation I’m in now.”