Small injuries plauging Browns on defense

CLEVELAND – No one seems concerned, but two key defensive pieces were missing during the Browns’ OTA practice Wednesday.

Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert sat out the second part of practice with his right knee tightly wrapped in ice. Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby was out of town nursing a minor injury.

Coach Mike Pettine had little to say about either injury. He simply said “it’s a bag of ice” in reference to Gilbert. Because OTAs are voluntary, Dansby can miss practices without being fined.

Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the draft, participated in all drills at the beginning of practice. Later he was seen walking gingerly with the knee wrapped. He didn’t leave the field early, which is a sign that trainers aren’t concerned.

Dansby and safety Donte Whitner were the centerpiece of the Browns’ free-agent strategy. Dansby will replace D’Qwell Jackson, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts, and Whitner replaces T.J. Ward, who’s now with the Denver Broncos.

BIG FAN: One of Whitner’s biggest fans is defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil.

“There aren’t a lot of them anymore, but he’s a follow-me-or-else leader,” O’Neil said. “He made our team tougher the day he walked into the building. He does a phenomenal job in the meeting room and the weight room and on the practice field. I can’t be more excited that he’s a part of this defense.”

WHO CARES?: Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan downplayed the trip rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel took to Las Vegas last weekend.

“I think six years ago when there’s not as much Twitter and pictures, people don’t notice that stuff and a lot of straight-arrow, good quarterbacks would do that that you don’t know about,” Shanahan said. “It doesn’t bother me. Johnny has been working as hard as anyone I’ve been around. He’s been here all day and night.

“Good for him to get a little break. He has to realize that there will be stuff to deal with and some people are going to judge him. I care what you do on the field, as long as you’re a good person outside of here.”

MOVING AROUND: Manziel worked with the third team in the OTA opened to the media last week. On Wednesday, he spent time with the first and second teams, which doesn’t mean much in late May.

“All the rookies are inconsistent,” Pettine said. “I haven’t seen a rookie come into this league and bat a thousand right out of the gate in all my time in the NFL. As is the case with other rookies, he has a lot of stuff to get cleaned up.”

STANDING TALL: Receiver Josh Gordon seemed to be everywhere making catches. It’s an indication of how much he would be missed if he’s suspended the entire season.

“He’s been impressive,” Pettine said. “As I stated last week, that until we hear otherwise (about the suspension), it will be business as usual.”

CAMPING OUT: Manziel seemed more comfortable than he did a week earlier. He hooked up with Gordon on a deep out. Later he connected with Gordon on a slant and tight end Jordan Cameron down the seam in red-zone drills. … Quarterback Brian Hoyer also connected with Cameron in the red zone. … Receiver Miles Austin watched another practice from the sideline. The team is being cautious with Austin, who has a history of hamstring injuries. … Rookie running back Terrance West looks good, but don’t forget Edwin Baker. Baker was the only back last season who added signs of life to the ground game. He’s quick and runs with a low center of gravity.