BEREA, Ohio — Tashaun Gipson returned to the practice field Tuesday after a minor knee injury that kept him out of last Saturday’s scrimmage.
Barring any setbacks, Mike Pettine expects Gipson to be in the starting lineup at free safety in the preseason opener with the Lions.
In just two seasons, Gipson has come a long way in establishing himself in the Brown secondary after making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent from Wyoming in 2012. Gipson is now playing for his third different head coach and third defensive coordinator in as many seasons, yet appears to continually impress the new coaching staffs.
Gipson (5-11, 205) led the Browns with five interceptions in 2013. He played nearly 96 percent of the defensive plays on the season and finished with 105 tackles.
In his rookie season, Gipson made the team coming out of training camp primarily on special teams, but broke into the lineup and started three games before the season was over. He finished his rookie season with 29 tackles and an interception.
In 2013, Gipson took over the starting free safety position and had 105 tackles with the five interceptions. He also had 14 passes broken up from. Last season, Gipson had 11- and 10-tackles in back-to-back weeks against the Packers and Chiefs.
Gipson is excited about the defense’s prospects as the team enters the 2014 season.
"One of our emphasis has been finishing," Gipson said. "We had a good defense last year, but this year with this defense our main goal and emphasis has been to finish.
"That’s what we want to do is finish games," he said. "We feel (win) if we can finish games. We can win a lot more games. That’s what the defense is out here for."
"That’s our new motto and we want to be out there and finish games when the real bullets start flying."
Gipson thinks the sky is the limit if the defense can play with confidence and play hard until the final whistle.
"Keeping an intensity for four quarters," he said. "Sometimes, we come out (intense), but if we can just keep up the intensity for four quarters I think we can be one of the top 10 defenses in the league."
For Starters: Besides Pettine announcing that QB Brian Hoyer will start, Pettine said there’s a good chance the starters will likely play beyond the first quarter.
"More than likely (we’ll) be slightly above the average (in starters playing)," Pettine said. "It’s a new system. You really walk a fine line. There’s a risk (to playing starters in the preseason), but there’s no substitute against live game tape. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went above the average."
Pettine said unless the NFL rules otherwise, he expects WR Josh Gordon to see some extended time.
"We’ll mix him in," he said. " I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the ones, some with the twos and maybe later into the game."
Pettine said he still expects to name his starters, not just at quarterback, before the third preseason game.
"I’ve always been a part of resting the majority of the guys in the fourth game and don’t expect it to be any different here."
Cameron Out: TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) continued to work with the trainers on the sideline. Pettine said he will not play against the Lions, but expects him to return next week.
"He’s OK," he said. "He won’t go (against Detroit) but he should be good to go next week."
Besides Cameron, LB Darius Eubanks was idle.
Dray, Carder Back: TE Jim Dray and LB Tank Carder returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday.
Thomas, Benjamin Rest: OL Joe Thomas and WR Travis Benjamin (knee) were off for a scheduled rest day.
"It was a scheduled off day for him," Pettine said of Benjamin.
New Guys: The Browns added four players Tuesday night and they were out on the practice field on Wednesday, including two tight ends. Cameron and TE Jim Dray both missed practice Tuesday with shoulder injuries, but Dray returned to practice Wednesday.
TE Kyle Auffray, TE Martell Webb, LB Keith Pough and WR Tim Smith.
"Ray (Farmer’s) staying busy," Pettine said. "He’s not just bunkering down for next year’s draft. Sometimes you have a need and other times, you want to take a look at someone who comes available."
Auffray, Webb and Pough are listed as first year players, while Smith is a rookie free agent.
Quick Hits: The Browns practiced in full pads for the 10th straight practice…QB Brian Hoyer and QB Johnny Manziel alternated reps with the first team…LB Keith Pough picked up a fumbled snap from QB Tyler Thigpen and returned it for a touchdown…Manziel hit WR Andrew Hawkins for a 30-yard gain in 7-on-7… WR Josh Gordon had a pass ripped out of his hands by CB Buster Skrine… Hoyer threw an interception to DB K’Waun Williams in 7-on-7…Manziel hit TE Jim Dray for a touchdown in a goal line series after starting at the defense’s 25. His second drive ended with an incomplete pass at the goal line…Hoyer over threw WR Charles Johnson on fourth down in the end zone to conclude his series in the goal line situation.
Next Up: The Browns will practice from 9:30 am to 12:10 pm Thursday, but the practice will not be open to the public. The Browns will return to the practice field in Berea on Monday after the first preseason game on Saturday against the Lions.