Cleveland Browns: 3 defensive takeaways vs. the Atlanta Falcons
By Thomas Moore
Ever since Hue Jackson took over as head coach the buzz around the Browns has been about “clean slates” for the more disappointing players on the roster.
No one needed their slate wiped clean more than third-year cornerback Justin Gilbert, who can no longer avoid the spotlight now that a certain other first-round draft choice is no longer with the Browns.
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But so far through two preseason games, Gilbert has been the same player everyone has seen for the past two seasons.
He can’t cover. He can’t fight off a block. He can’t tackle.
Other than that, it was a flawless night for Gilbert against the Falcons.
Gilbert’s biggest blunder came on his missed tackle of Devonta Freeman, which resulted in Freeman’s 19-yard touchdown run. It was a tackle attempt in name only and one that will be a staple of tackling clinics for years to come.
Gilbert also continues to be unable to fight off wide receivers that are blocking him, and had a penalty that wiped out a sack by defensive end Carl Nassib.
Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams summed up a big part of Gilbert’s problem earlier in training camp.
“Physically, we all can do it. It’s who can do it mentally,” Williams said. “Who can stay in the game mentally enough to come out and be able to make a career out of it ’cause a lot of guys can’t do it.”
Gilbert has been working with the first-team defense while cornerback Joe Haden recovers from off-season ankle surgery. Haden returned to practice this week and should be back on the field soon, which means the end of Gilbert’s time with the starters.
Next: Browns: 4 offensive takeaways vs. Falcons
Based on what he’s shown so far during the preseason, Gilbert’s time with the first team may not be the only thing that will soon be coming to an end.