NFL Wire News

Gilbert a big disappointment for Browns


CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns will finish 8-8 for the first time since 1985 and secure only their third non-losing season since 1999 if they upset the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday.

On a much bigger scale, the game will be used to continue evaluating players the organization hopes will be key contributors to the future of the Browns. One of those players is top draft pick Justin Gilbert, the cornerback from Oklahoma State chosen eighth overall.

Gilbert has been a huge disappointment. It got to the point last week where his playing time was reduced to 17 snaps and it likely would have been less than that if starting cornerback Joe Haden hadn’t missed the game with a shoulder injury. Haden is day to day as the Browns prepare for the final game of the season.

Head coach Mike Pettine said Gilbert’s playing time was reduced in the game against Carolina because of things done on the field and off it. Pettine did not elaborate but said Gilbert did not violate any team rules.

A week earlier, Gilbert left the game against the Bengals because of a head injury. An examination showed Gilbert did not have a concussion. The same scenario happened earlier in the season.

Gilbert’s poor play has not gone unnoticed by linebacker Karlos Dansby, one of the team leaders on defense. Pierre Desir, a fourth-round draft pick from Division II Lindenwood, took no defensive snaps until he played against the Bengals in the 14th game of the season. Desir, in contrast to Gilbert, played 75 snaps against the Panthers.

“I don’t know if he’s going to make the transition,” Dansby said when asked what makes him think Gilbert will succeed. “It has to be within him. He has to look in the mirror and do that himself. I can only give him the keys; I can’t make him drive. I can only tell him, ‘Hey man, you need to do this. You need to do that. You need to look out for this, look out for that.’ It’s up to him to make the decision. I can’t make the decision for him. He’s a grown man.”

Third-round running back Terrance West is in a similar situation. He was benched in the Carolina game because he did not work up to Pettine’s standards. He was benched before the game against the Steelers on Oct. 12 for the same reason.

Practice for the Ravens began on Tuesday. Pettine does not hold grudges so both players began the work week with a clean slate.

“It is, but it’s also a situation where they need to respond,” Pettine said. “This is something that is very serious to us on how we approach our work and how we handle our business week to week. It’s a tough love circumstance for both of those guys. We expect them to uphold their end of the bargain. Nothing is given whether it’s playing time or being active or inactive, and both of those guys are very well aware of their situations.”

Gilbert ranks 15th among Browns defenders with 27 tackles. He has one interception and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.

West is second behind fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell (601 yards) with 579 yards rushing.

SERIES HISTORY: This is the 32nd regular-season meeting between the Browns and Ravens. The Ravens lead the series, 23-8. The Browns haven’t won in Baltimore since 2007, when they won, 33-30, on a 33-yard field goal by Phil Dawson in overtime.

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