Justin Gilbert: 'Last year pretty much humbled me'

Johnny Manziel isn't the only second-year player hoping to make good on his first-round pedigree in Cleveland.

Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert is banking on a strong offseason to wipe away the memories of a mostly disastrous debut, which saw him start just two games all year before losing time to a laundry list of late-round and undrafted players.

"I think last year pretty much humbled me a lot, and I learned from my mistakes," Gilbert said Thursday, per Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. "I'm just looking forward from here on out, and coming to work every day with the same attitude, love being around my teammates and communicating with them more than last year, so it's been pretty good so far."

Both Gilbert and Manziel were suspended for the season finale after being late to a team meeting, but the defender says his off-the-field issues were not identical to Johnny's. Coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer hinted this offseason that Gilbert was dealing with a personal problem last year, to which he responded: "You could say that."

"Just talking to the coaches, some of the players, some of my teammates, Ray Farmer after the season was over with, talking about how I have to grow up, have some maturing to do, I kind of took that to heart," Gilbert said. "I didn't disagree with them on anything that they said. We talked for quite a while."

Coaches and teammates have seen more focus from Gilbert this spring, but he's no lock to start. The Browns signed former Packers cornerback Tramon Williams to play across from Joe Haden, while second-year defender K'Waun Williams has impressed at OTAs. It's not unusual, though, for press corners to struggle out of the gate, making any final judgment on Gilbert premature.

"I hope (he starts)," said Browns secondary coach Jeff Hafley. "I do believe he can start this year and play and help us win games. ... We're going to have so many packages and guys are going to have so many roles, we'll get guys on the field that deserve to be. And if he's working and if he deserves it and he's consistent, we're going to get him on the field."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes Jeff Darlington to discuss minicamp stories, and Conor Orr calls in for the debut of a new segment. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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