CLEVELAND—The two first round picks from 2014 are both active for Monday Night Football against the Ravens.
Justin Gilbert will start at left cornerback in place of Joe Haden, who is sitting out his third-straight game with a concussion. In a bit of a surprise move, cornerback Pierre Desir is inactive after having started in place of Haden. Desir has started five games in place of Haden this season.
Gilbert was inactive in the last week against the Steelers and this will be his first start of the season and third in his career. Despite the injuries to the secondary, Gilbert had tumbled down the depth chart behind Desir, converted cornerback Johnson Bademosi and rookie Charles Gaines in Haden’s absence. The eighth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has just three tackles on the season and has been used primarily as a kick returner.
Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said the pecking order at cornerback is determined by the week of practice leading up to the game.
As reported earlier, despite being demoted to third string, quarterback Johnny Manziel is active and will back up Josh McCown and Austin Davis. Manziel was announced as the rest of the season starter, but an incident during the bye week led to him being demoted and designated as the third string quarterback. It was assumed that Manziel would be inactive but the presumed thinking is that McCown is returning after a rib injury and by his own admission doesn’t know how he’ll respond when he takes a hit. Rather than facing the possibility of being short-handed at quarterback, the decision was to suit Manziel up.
Five of the seven players inactive were out due to injury, including Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion), WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion), DL Randy Starks (knee) and OL Joel Bitonio (ankle). Besides Desir, the other inactive was defensive back Don Jones. John Hughes will start in place of Starks.