Like all 2020 rookies, Gipson’s experience has been altered by COVID-19. Without rookie camp or preseason games, Gipson will have to prove himself to the coaching staff without two of the methods that have been most useful to rookies in past years.
“As far as this whole draft class, it has been really different,” said Gipson. “We didn’t get to take official visits to different teams or even come up here a week or two after the draft and get started and get the ball rolling. So there are a lot of positives and negatives.”
The positives and negatives are separated by the mental and physical aspects of the game. Gipson was able to spend more time learning the playbook, but was denied time to acclimate to an NFL roster’s speed and strength.
“We did get an extra month—actually way longer than that—to actually get down the schemes and different plays,” said Gipson. “So mentally, that helped us out. Physically, on the back end, it slowed us down because we didn’t get to practice on time.”
With Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn at his position, Gipson will look to make his first impact as a reserve and on special teams. Gipson has some experience playing special teams as an underclassman at Tulsa.
“It’s a lot of different techniques on the defensive side and the special teams side that I’m getting used to and learning,” said Gipson, “so just taking it step by step. You know coach [Chris] Tabor is a great coach, a real bright guy. He’s been teaching us all a lot and different ways to get the job done, and if you can do it 10 different ways, you know, why not be able to?”
The more significant challenge for Gipson may be adapting to playing linebacker after playing defensive end in college. He has been looking to Mack as an example.
“I’ve soaked up a lot of pass rush moves,” said Gipson, “a lot of ways to go about my career. I see him taking care of his body a lot. That’s a big thing in the NFL in order to last. I should take care of my body.”
Beyond advice on the field, Mack has set an example for Gipson in terms of work ethic. Gipson marveled at the amount of time Mack spends watching film and working on his body.
“He stays after his weightlifting times to lift weights even more,” said Gipson. “He’s in the ice tub. He’s doing treatment and just making sure his body is holding up. For him to be in the year that he is in this league, obviously he has done something right. So that’s been the common thing I’ve gotten from a lot of the vets, it’s taking care of your body. And I’ve seen that the most from him obviously because I’m around him the most.”