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Tashaun Gipson's rapid rise leads to Pro Bowl invite


Tashaun Gipson joined a growing list of Cleveland Browns players who went from undrafted to the Pro Bowl in a short span of time.

What makes Gipson unique is he's the first Brown in 24 years to take this path and land a spot on one of the defenses at the NFL's annual all-star game.

Gipson, who was a standout cornerback at Wyoming, swallowed his pride and made the cut after his first training camp in 2012 because he was versatile enough to play special teams. After logging three starts near the end of his rookie season, Gipson won a starting job in 2013 and never looked back.

His five interceptions led the team and were among the most in the league last season. The six he collected in just 11 games this year is second-best.

"The game has completely slowed down for me," Gipson said earlier this season.

And it's allowed him to play with the kind of speed that not only allows him to track down passes, but also make big plays when the ball's in his hands.

His first interception of 2014 gave him the second touchdown of his career, as he picked off New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and ran it back 62 yards for a second-quarter score. He notched the second two-interception game of his career when he picked off Jacksonville rookie twice in a losing effort. He followed it up with interceptions in consecutive victories against the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Gipson's season was short-circuited when he went down with a knee injury during the second half of Cleveland's win at Atlanta. Though he initially hoped to return for last week's game at Carolina, Gipson saw his season officially come to a close when he was placed on injured reserve.

He'll have a few more weeks of recovery time before the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

"He is playing well overall. He grades out high every week," coach Mike Pettine said earlier this season. "He and (Donte Whitner), I think, are very complementary to each other and do a good job communicating and making sure the corners and the structure in front of them is right. There have not been a lot of mental mistakes by that duo, and that's hard sometimes to handle, schematically.

"It's clear that he has that center fielder-type ability. He's got tremendous ball skills. He's already demonstrated that. He's a guy that we've obviously been very pleased with."

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