Gilbert has rough debut against St. Louis

CLEVELAND – It couldn’t have been a worse home debut for rookie Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert.

Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the draft, was easy prey for the St. Louis Rams’ passing attack Saturday night. He was beaten repeatedly by backups Shaun Hill and Austin Davis.

Gilbert was soft in coverage of Brian Quick at the goal line on a pass from Hill. Quick hauled in a 5-yard touchdown pass just inside the goal line.

Later in the first half Davis connected with Chris Givens on a short crossing route in front of Gilbert, who was trailing the play in man coverage. Givens took the reception for a 75-yard touchdown, leaving safety Donte Whitner behind.

Gilbert performed well in training camp but sat out the first preseason game with a hamstring injury. He played well last Monday against the Washington Redskins.

Gilbert will likely start the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers despite his poor showing Saturday night. Coach Mike Pettine might have no other choice if Buster Skrine (thumb) isn’t ready to go.

LACK OF DEPTH: Cornerback Joe Haden was a surprise inactive for the Browns with a sore foot. The injury isn’t considered serious.

In addition to Haden and Skrine, other cornerbacks out were rookie Pierre Desir (knee), Isaiah Trufant (knee) and K’Waun Williams (hamstring).

NEW LOOK: The Browns unveiled a new look to First Energy Stadium as the first of two phases of a remodel are complete. The highlight of phase one are two 6,900-foot scoreboards that are shaped like the state of Tennessee. The scoreboards are the fourth largest in the NFL.

Some seats in both ends were removed to make room for the scoreboards, although two small sections of seats were added to offset some of the lost seating. Overall, there’s more of a feel of enclosure as the small open areas on the corners of the stadium have been reduced in size.

Another addition that’s sure to please fans is a new sound system. Also, fantasy owners will be pleased to know that small scoreboards that will constantly update out-of-town games are at each end.

The second phase, which will start after this season, won’t be noticeable to most fans. It will involve improvement to luxury boxes and loges.

START ME UP: Rookie Chris Kirksey was announced as the starting inside linebacker, but Craig Robertson got the start. Pettine said that he might time split between Kirksey and Craig Robertson, who started the first two preseason games. Kirksey was credited with a sack in the first half.

HAPPY HOME: Safety Donte Whitner showed his gratitude for playing his first game as a Brown by kissing the ground after being introduced. Whitner played here at Glenville High School before going on to Ohio State.

INACTIVES: Inactives other than Haden, Skrine, Trufant, Desir and Williams were running back Edwin Baker (hamstring), offensive lineman Michael Bowie (shoulder), defensive lineman Desmond Bryant (wrist), receiver Nate Burleson (hamstring), linebacker Darius Eubanks (shoulder), offensive lineman Randall Harris (knee), defensive back T.J. Heath (hip), receiver Jonathan Krause (knee), linebacker Eric Martin (concussion), linebacker Keith Pough (ankle) and tight end Martell Webb (groin). Offensive lineman OL Nick McDonald (wrist) in on the non-football injury list.

INJURY REPORT: It was a brutal night for the Rams. Quarterback Sam Bradford left in the first half after taking a hit from Armonty Bryant. Bradford limped off the field and then walked to the locker room under his own power. Bradford is coming off an ACL injury. Other Rams starters suffering injuries were guard Rodger Saffold, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and defensive lineman Kendall Langford.

CUTDOWN DAY: Rosters must be cut to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, although many coaches have already made reductions. The final cut to 53 players have to be made by Saturday afternoon.