Browns hint at reduced role for rookie Justin Gilbert

Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert endured a trial by fire in Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers.

Pitted against Pittsburgh's Markus Wheaton, Gilbert allowed the second-year wideout to haul in six catches for 97 yards off seven targets, including a pair of grabs on a last-minute Steelers drive that triggered a game-winning field goal.

After watching the tape, Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters on Monday that he might scale back on Gilbert's workload starting Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Pettine was careful to not call it a benching, saying instead that he wanted to manage Gilbert's exposure on the outside.

Only five Browns defenders played more than Gilbert's 59 snaps. A decrease in playing time, though, will increase the pressure on slot man Buster Skrine and the proven Joe Haden.

It's not unusual for first-year cornerbacks to struggle, especially in a scheme that asks its cover men to control the game with man-to-man press coverage. Gilbert's prospects as a first-round draft pick remain bright, but he's not likely to see another 59 snaps when the Saints come marching into Cleveland on Sunday.

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