BEREA—There is an often used saying about the difference a year makes and nothing is truer than for second-year safety Tashaun Gipson.
The undrafted free agent from Wyoming was just trying to catch the eye of former Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and coach Pat Shurmur at this time in 2012.
Fast forward 12 months and Gipson is running with the first team under a new regime in defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Rob Chudzinski.
“It’s definitely night and day,” Gipson said after wrapping up the second week of the Browns Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices. “I am coming in here with a whole new mentality (this year).
“Last year, I was trying to latch on and now I’m out there with the starters,” he said. “I know it will be a big question to people with a second-year undrafted free agent, but as long as the coaches have confidence in me I know I have confidence in myself and my ability and I will leave it in God’s hands.”
The Browns did not re-sign Usama Young and released Eric Hagg earlier this week, paving the way for Gipson. Right now, the safeties believed to be competing for the free safety spot opposite of T.J. Ward are Gipson, Johnson Bademosi and rookie Jamoris Slaughter.
“As far as that aspect I have no control,” Gipson said. “The upper level management makes decisions they feel are best for the team, but all I can do is go with the flow.
“It gives me great opportunity,” he said. “I just want to do my job and am blessed to be in this position.”
Bademosi is being converted from cornerback to safety after making the team as an undrafted free agent from Stanford last year. He was a stalwart on special teams in 2012 for the Browns.
“I’ve been pleased with him,” Chudzinski said. “(Bademosi’s) taken that role and is also learning a new position. He looks pretty good at safety. We’ll keep playing him there and some at corner and see where it goes from there.”
Slaughter has yet to practice after tearing his Achilles tendon in the third game last year at Notre Dame.
He was drafted in the sixth-round in April and is expected to be ready for training camp.
Chudzinski anticipates the safety position to be hotly contested in training camp.
“(Gipson’s) done a nice job and also some of the young guys have been given opportunities,” Chudzinski said. “That will be a very competitive position in training camp when the pads go on and we start to hit.”
Gipson (5-11, 205) feels it is a blessing in disguise that he was an undrafted free agent, which allows him to keep his edge.
“That’s one of the things that I’m definitely blessed to be in this situation coming from last year to be labeled as an undrafted guy starting in the secondary,” he said. “I feel my play will answer any questions that need to be answered, but I definitely stay humbled through this whole experience.”
Gipson says despite overcoming long odds to make the team and then become a starter from Wyoming, he has no doubts he can play at a high level in the NFL.
“There’s not even a point zero chance I don’t belong with the big guys,” he said. “A young guy like myself, being just 22 years old, has to have confidence.
“If you have confidence and can back it up with your ability, it will help me to have a successful year for me.”
TRich, Cameron Sidelined: RB Trent Richardson (lower leg muscle strain-shin) and TE Jordan Cameron (groin) sat out of Thursday’s practice.
Chudzinski said both were held out as precautionary measures, but Chudzinski said Richardson might not practice in the upcoming minicamp.
“(Richardson) might miss minicamp,” he said. “With Cameron, it is his groin and again, we’re being precautionary.”
WR David Nelson (knee) and S Jamoris Slaughter (Achilles) did not participate in practice.
Never Enough: Chudzinski was asked about bringing back UFA RB Brandon Jackson. Currently, the Browns stable of backs consists of five backs who have played in the NFL in Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya, Dion Lewis and Jackson. In addition, they have undrafted rookie free agent Miguel Maysonet.
”I always felt like you can’t have enough good running backs,” Chudzinski said. “Brandon has been successful in this league and he is an experienced guy. You can’t have enough running backs.”
Lewis was brought over in a trade with the Eagles and is looked at as a possible third down back as well as a kick returner.
“Dion has done a nice job,” Chudzinksi said. “He has shown some skills from what I’ve seen and he shows some good pass catching ability.”
No Desmond: DE Desmond Bryant was absent from OTA practice. Chudzinski said he was dealing with a legal issue.
“He has a legal matter that he’s taking care of,” Chudzinski said.
It is presumed it is the misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for allegedly being drunk last February and wandering into a neighbor’s house in Miami. He had a mug shot taken that went viral on the internet.
Good Progress for Weeden: Last week, QB Brandon Weeden said he had a bad day on the day that practice was open to the media. This week, he looked very sharp. He hit WR Travis Benjamin streaking down the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown and completed passes to WR Davone Bess and Greg Little in setting up a field goal in the two-minute offense.
“You guys are out here one day,” Chudzinski said. “I’ve seen a progression with Brandon. With these quarterbacks it’s not going to be about one day. It’s over a course of time. They’re all doing a good job.”
Weeden has OK on his Mind: Weeden is from Oklahoma and has relatives in Moore, OK, cite of the deadly tornado and he plans to go back there this weekend and lend a hand. Weeden played college football at Oklahoma State.
“I’m going back there to work and help out,” he said. “I’ll do anything, whether it’s getting in the rubble or whatever, I’ll be there to help.”
Versatile Greco: Last year, when OL Jason Pinkston was lost for the season with a blood clot in his lung, John Greco stepped in and was very productive. He ended up starting 10 games at left guard.
Greco was lining up at right guard and Pinkston was at left guard with the first team in team drills.
“John’s doing a nice job learning a lot of different positions,” Chudzinski said. “He came in last year and did a nice job. He’s showed he can handle a lot of different things.”
Greco is trying to build on the opportunity he received last year to be the starter.
“That’s my mindset, to play wherever the coaches want me to,” he said. “Whether it be on the left side or right side. I want to be ready every week.”
Draft Day: The film crew for the upcoming movie, ‘Draft Day’ is around the Browns facility filming. They are expected to be shooting video about the movie starring Kevin Costner for the next several weeks.
Costner was at the Browns practices earlier in the week, but wasn’t seen on Thursday.