AFC North: Barkevious Mingo

Breaking down the punt-team breakdowns

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
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Breakdowns by the Cleveland Browns and good plays by the Cincinnati Bengals led to the crucial special teams mistakes that contributed significantly to the Browns' 21-point loss.

“We had two major breakdowns there,” coach Rob Chudzinski said.

One tipped punt and one blocked punt gave the Bengals two touchdowns and helped turn the momentum toward Cincinnati.

The first rush came up the middle, as the Bengals drove a rusher into center Christian Yount and looped Shawn Williams up the middle. Williams was able to tip the ball, which was not considered a block because it went beyond the line of scrimmage.

But the nine-yard “punt” set up the Bengals' second touchdown.

Yount said he should have changed the protection before the play. He also said his snap drifted right, which took punter Spencer Lanning closer to Williams as he rushed.

The second was a block, by Jayson DiManche. He lined up on the left side of the Bengals' rush, and split the gap between linebacker Eric Martin and linebacker Barkevious Mingo. He also easily avoided fullback Chris Ogbonnaya to reach out with his left hand and block the punt.

Mingo lined up off Martin’s right shoulder, a couple yards off the line of scrimmage. When DiManche took an outside-in move, Martin went inside to help and Mingo basically whiffed. As did Ogbonnaya.

In the scramble for the ball, Lanning also had a chance to touch Tony Dye when he recovered the ball, but Lanning said he was trying to recover the ball.

Though Mingo took the blame, coach Rob Chudzinski said the scheme called for zone blocking, so both players were responsible. Chudzinski hinted the responsibility was more on Martin.

“There needs to be help from the inside guy, and he ultimately is responsible for that guy,” Chudzinski said.

Martin actually turned inside to help on a player a teammate was blocking.

The Browns have shuffled players on the punt team, in part because of an injury to special teams captain Quentin Groves.

Mingo had played in various spots on the punt protection, including that one, Chudzinski said.

“The effect of losing Quentin is having to move guys around,” Chudzinski said. “But that’s no excuse. There’s no excuse for getting punts blocked.”

Tough to win when you can't punt

November, 17, 2013
11/17/13
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videoCINCINNATI -- It's not common for a team to have a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown.

It's less common that a team has that happen in the same game when it has another punt tipped, holding said punt to 9 yards.

But that's part of the reason the Cleveland Browns fell apart in the 41-20 loss to the Bengals: They couldn't get off a punt. There were other miscues, of course. Jason Campbell's pass from his 20-yard line with the Browns ahead 13-0 was tipped at the line and intercepted by James Harrison. It would have been a touchdown had a Cincinnati player not blocked in the back for a penalty.

No matter, it merely set up Cincinnati's first touchdown.

[+] EnlargeSpencer Lanning
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsBengals linebacker Jayson DiManche, 51, blocked Spencer Lanning's punt, which Tony Dye returned for a touchdown.
The Bengals forced a punt, which Lanning had tipped and went 9 yards. That set up the Bengals' second touchdown, which put them ahead for good.

Two possessions later, rookie Barkevious Mingo missed a block in protection and Lanning's punt was blocked, except this time the Bengals ran it in for a touchdown and a 21-13 lead.

The barricade was starting to cave.

“It's definitely a game-changer,” Lanning said of the blocks.

Mingo took responsibility for the second blocked punt. Lanning said the snap, step and kick from his point of view were fine.

“I felt the operation was good,” Lanning said. “Credit to them for dialing up good rushes.”

Lanning was amid the scrum for the ball with Tony Dye, but he neglected to touch Dye when he recovered the kick on the ground. That let Dye get up and run.

“I have no idea,” Lanning said when asked if he touched Dye. “I slid and was trying to fight for the ball.”

Lanning said he expected to be rushed kicking into the wind, and he got the pressure he expected. It could be, too, that the Bengals saw something they liked on the first tipped punt and decided to go after the second.

“Unacceptable,” coach Rob Chudzinski said of the poor special-teams protection.

The Browns then compounded their problems. On their ensuing possession, Chris Ogbonnaya fumbled after a short completion and the Bengals returned it for a touchdown and a 28-13 lead.

Then on third-and-13 with 42 seconds left, Jordan Cameron caught a short throw from Campbell and ran out of bounds. That allowed Cincinnati to save a timeout, and when the Browns didn't cover the punt well Cincinnati was able to kick a field goal.

The Browns implosion led the Bengals to score 31 points in the quarter, a franchise record.

“A few plays here and there, it could have been a different outcome to the game,” defensive lineman Desmond Bryant said.

Which, technically, is true.

But when every play goes against the team making the errors, it creates a steamroll effect that is next to impossible to fight.

And when the same team makes mistakes big and less big -- like Armonty Bryant jumping offside on a Cincinnati punt in the third quarter on fourth-and-2 -- it adds up.

Figure that Campbell returned to his pre-last-two-weeks self and threw three interceptions, and it's not hard to grasp why Browns lost a game by 21 when they held the opposing quarterback to 93 yards passing (on 27 attempts) and when they held the opposing star (receiver A.J. Green) to two catches for 7 yards.

“We handed them the game,” said wide receiver Josh Gordon.

“Too many mistakes,” said safety T.J. Ward. “Too many errors. We're not ready … we're not ready.”

Locker Room Buzz: Cleveland Browns

November, 17, 2013
11/17/13
6:07
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CINCINNATI -- Observed in the locker room after the Cleveland Browns' 41-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:

Four plays: The Browns knew that the loss to the Bengals came down to four plays -- one blocked punt, one tipped punt, one interception that set up a Cincinnati touchdown and one fumble that was returned for a touchdown. The Browns gave the Bengals 28 of their 31 points in the second quarter on what coach Rob Chudzinski said were plays that “were a disaster.”

Campbell
Tough to stomach: T.J. Ward could not believe the Bengals had 31 points and three first downs in the first half. Nobody could, especially defensively. It’s simply not a stat that makes a lot of sense, or that folks see too often.

My bad: A lot of folks took the blame in the locker room. Jason Campbell said it was his job to get the team in the end zone early, and he didn’t. Barkevious Mingo said he was at fault for the blocked punt that the Bengals returned for a touchdown. A 21-point loss in a “big” game tends to lead to a lot of responsibility being shared.

It was expected: Punter Spencer Lanning said he fully expected Cincinnati to pressure his punts when he kicked into the wind. The Bengals obliged, tipping one punt and blocking another, even though Lanning said his side of things was as it should have been.

Getaway: The Browns had an abbreviated locker room and hustled their players to the team plane within an hour after the game ended. The goal: To beat the storm that was heading toward Cincinnati; the same storm that delayed the game in Chicago. Players did interviews with team officials scampering around yelling “five minutes.”
T.J. Ward and Joe FlaccoUSA Today SportsThe Browns and T.J. Ward will try to snap an 11-game series slide against the Ravens and Joe Flacco.
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The Baltimore Ravens have won 11 games in a row over the Cleveland Browns. That number is a measure not only of how good the Ravens have been since 2007 — the last time the Browns won in this series — but also how badly the Browns have struggled.

That 11-game win streak also is the longest current streak of regular-season wins by one team against another, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

By ending that streak, the Browns would make a statement about themselves and their status in the AFC North. But the Ravens realize they will need to start righting themselves if they wish to have a chance to defend their Super Bowl title. Let’s look ahead to the game with ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley and Browns reporter Pat McManamon.

Pat McManamon: The Ravens won the first game between these teams this season, in Week 2, and since then the Browns have started three different quarterbacks. What about the Ravens has changed since the first time these teams met?

Jamison Hensley: Pat, the problem for the Ravens is what hasn't changed. A big reason Baltimore is sitting at 3-4 is its inability to run the ball. The Ravens averaged 2.8 yards per rush against the Browns in Week 2, and they have averaged a league-worst 2.8 yards per rush for the season.

Ray Rice injured his hip in the fourth quarter against the Browns, and he really hasn't looked healthy since. But Rice has a great track record when playing in Cleveland. It's like his home turf, based on the results. In five games there, Rice has averaged 127.4 yards rushing. His worst game was 89 yards.

Is there any shot of Rice getting back on track against the Browns?

McManamon: The Browns are pretty good against the run. They give up 103.6 yards per game, good for 12th in the league. Three opponents have rushed for fewer than 100 yards, and last week they held the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles, second in the NFL in rushing yards this season, to 74 yards. That being said, if anyone is going to bust loose against the Browns, it would be Rice. He seems to salivate when he plays the Browns, especially in Cleveland -- where he's had games of 154, 89, 92, 204 and 98 yards in the last five seasons.

Let's flip to the passing game, Jamison. In his first start, Jason Campbell was surprisingly effective against the Chiefs' pass rush. He was able to make his reads and get rid of the ball in a hurry. Do you anticipate the Ravens coming up with anything to take advantage of Campbell, who is on his fourth team in eight seasons?

Hensley: The Ravens were impressed by Campbell, but they were more impressed by the Browns' offensive line, which allowed just one sack against the Chiefs. Baltimore will find out if Cleveland's pass protection will hold up for a second week. The Ravens will likely use the same aggressive game plan that resulted in five sacks of Brandon Weeden in the earlier meeting with the Browns.

In addition to Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil coming off the edges, the Ravens generated pressure by blitzing up the middle. Where the Ravens will really test Campbell is on third down. Baltimore has recorded 10 sacks on third down this season, fifth-most in the NFL. The last time the Ravens faced Campbell as a starter was 2008, but only two Ravens defensive starters from that game (Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata) remain on the team.

The bigger concern for the Ravens has been their inability to protect Joe Flacco. Has the Browns' pass rush lived up to expectations so far?

McManamon: In general, no, but last Sunday, yes. The Browns got six sacks against a pretty mobile quarterback in Alex Smith. The catch is that whereas defensive coordinator Ray Horton went after Smith, he dialed back the blitzes the previous two weeks when he faced Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. The Browns have guys who can bring pressure in Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor, Paul Kruger (even with his low sack total) and rookie Barkevious Mingo. But against Green Bay and Detroit, Horton played coverage. Flacco isn't mobile, but he is smart and he's won a Super Bowl. It will be intriguing to see whether the Browns go after him or sit back.

Kruger is one of the departed Ravens from last season's Super Bowl champs. Which of those guys who left -- including the retired Ray Lewis -- do they miss the most?

Hensley: The Ravens haven't really missed Lewis on the field. Daryl Smith, who replaced the longtime face of the franchise, has been the defense's top playmaker. The top four players that the Ravens miss the most (in no particular order) are wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safety Ed Reed, safety Bernard Pollard and center Matt Birk.

Boldin was a difference-maker on third down and in the red zone, two areas where the offense has struggled this season. Teams would likely take fewer deep shots if Reed were playing center field, and there's less of an intimidation factor on defense without Pollard. The biggest surprise is how much the Ravens have struggled without Birk. In his first season as the starting center, Gino Gradkowski is getting pushed back too often.

Speaking of changes, the Ravens didn't have to face wide receiver Josh Gordon last month because he was serving his two-game suspension. Can his impact change the Browns' fortunes against the Ravens?

McManamon: Of course. Gordon is a talent. A big-time talent. At just 22, he’s second in the league in yards per catch, and every touchdown pass in his career has been for at least 20 yards. It’s no secret that the offense opened up for Brian Hoyer, in part because Hoyer played but also because he had Gordon back. That said, not even Gordon can overcome bad quarterbacking. He struggled when Weeden had his second chance because Weeden struggled. Campbell got him back in the offense. Baltimore must respect him.

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It seemed that linebacker Jabaal Sheard would return for the Browns last week.

He didn’t.

But he might on Sunday against Green Bay.

Sheard was a full participant in practice all week and is listed as probable on the team’s injury report. He missed three games with a sprained knee.

Coach Rob Chudzinski said Sheard will join Quentin Groves and Barkevious Mingo in a rotation at outside linebacker.

“We have different packages for all of them,” Chudzinski said. “I look at it like we have three starters, and we’re going to roll them. Hopefully, we can get them to where the amount of reps they’re getting are close to the same. I think that’ll help our effectiveness.”

Defensive lineman Billy Winn will not play Sunday. Running back Willis McGahee was held out Thursday to rest his aging and ailing knees, but he will play.

The Browns also placed backup defensive back Josh Aubrey on injured reserve. Aubry hurt his knee and ankle in practice Thursday and is done for the season. In addition, the team waived running back Bobby Rainey.

Cornerback Julian Posey and wide receiver Tori Gurley were promoted from the practice squad.
Chances seem to be improving that the Cleveland Browns will have one of their better defensive players back from injury this week.

Jabaal Sheard moved well in the portion of practice open to the media. Sheard has missed two weeks with a sprained knee, and though he was limited Wednesday he was in full uniform Thursday.

Sheard
Sheard moved from defensive end to outside linebacker this season when the Browns switched to the 3-4 and was playing very well before he sprained his knee.

“He’s a very smart player,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “He allows us to do certain things.”

First-round pick Barkevious Mingo started for Sheard, and Horton has been quick to temper enthusiastic responses to Mingo’s flashy plays and caution that the rookie was learning.

One example: Mingo was responsible for the outside edge on C.J. Spiller’s long touchdown run in the win over the Bills, but he ducked too far inside and allowed Spiller to bounce around the end and score.

“I assume he knows what the lesson is, what his responsibility to the rest of the team is,” Horton said of Mingo. “He’s a young player and I think I said a week ago, two weeks ago for sure, with young players like him, we’re going to learn and grow with him.”

And suffer with him.

Sheard is in his third season, but Horton said he is “one of our better players.” Horton deferred to coach Rob Chudzinski on whether Sheard would start, but said: “We want all of our good players on the field.”

In other injury news, defensive lineman Billy Winn did not practice. Linebacker Quentin Groves was in uniform and on the field.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer made his first appearance on the field since tearing a knee ligament during the morning walk-through. Hoyer moved on crutches, and did not speak to the media. He has been in the building with his teammates all week.

Upon Further Review: Browns Week 5

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
5:18
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A review of four hot issues from the Cleveland Browns' 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills:

Out for the season: Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer will miss the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the win over Buffalo. It’s a tough blow for Hoyer, who performed well in his two full starts playing for his hometown team. Injury is the risk of playing in the NFL, but it’s a tough part of the game.

[+] EnlargeBrian Hoyer
AP Photo/David RichardLosing quarterback Brian Hoyer forces the Browns to turn to Brandon Weeden again.
Back to Brandon: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski was asked on a conference call why he believed he could get from Brandon Weeden what he needs now that Hoyer is out. “Because we have no other choice,” Chudzinski said. He doesn’t. Hoyer was a pleasant surprise, but the Browns are back to where they started with their quarterbacks. Weeden is the starter and Jason Campbell the backup. If Weeden does not improve in a hurry, this season could turn long very fast.

Bryant OK: Desmond Bryant left the game and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic in an ambulance after experiencing shortness of breath. Chudzinski said Bryant also had an irregular heartbeat. “We took him to the hospital,” Chudzinski said. “He stayed overnight as a precaution. He’s fine; everything is back to normal. We’re not expecting any issues going forward.” Between Bryant having an irregular heartbeat and Barkevious Mingo bruising a lung, the Browns have had some scary-sounding injuries this season.

Above breakeven: Lost in the injury to their starting quarterback is the fact that the Browns have won three in a row, are over .500 and are in first place in the AFC North. Those are all figures that cause double-takes for a team that won 23 games the five seasons coming into this one. Just less than one-third into the season, the Browns can actually ponder the possibility of competing for the division. Pittsburgh is winless. Cincinnati is not playing close to expectations. And Baltimore has its struggles. The Browns can think big, but the key is their quarterback. Since they are back to square zero at that position, it’s a rather big question.
The Cleveland Browns remain in good standing on the injury front.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden practiced Tuesday, working with gloves on both hands in the part of practice open to the media.

Hoyer
Weeden
Whether Weeden is the backup or No. 3 Thursday night against Buffalo will be determined by how he looks in practice, said coach Rob Chudzinski. Weeden missed the last two games -- and probably lost his starting job -- to a sprained thumb.

Brian Hoyer will make his third start, ostensibly because it’s a short week but in reality because Hoyer has played too well not to start.

Three players are not expected to play: Outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard and Quentin Groves and defensive lineman Billy Winn. Sheard (sprained knee) and Winn (quad) were not working, and Groves (ankle) was riding the proverbial stationary bike.

Winn’s absence will be minimized by the Browns' depth on the defensive front. Sheard’s absence against Cincinnati allowed first-round pick Barkevious Mingo to open eyes with a very strong first start.

Place-kicker Billy Cundiff is dealing with a thigh strain. He missed two field goals in the win over Cincinnati. Chudzinski said he would see how Cundiff kicks in practice before making any decision regarding that position.
A look at what's happening on the Cleveland Browns beat:
  • Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is the most talented player in the AFC North and he's won his recent matchups with Joe Haden. But the Browns cornerback said he isn't worried about covering Green on Sunday. "It's not like we’re scared," Haden told The Plain Dealer. "They have to plan for us, too. It’s not all about what they’re doing, it’s about what we’re gonna do to them. We have to come out and be aggressive and put hits on people. He’s really, really talented, but you've got T.J. [Ward] and [Tashaun] Gipson over the top, lurking, ready to come across the middle if he comes across the middle."
  • Willis McGahee expects "dramatic improvement" in the Browns' rushing attack on Sunday. After one practice with the Browns last week, McGahee rushed eight times for only 9 yards. “Oh, we’re going to have more than [9] yards rushing," McGahee told The Akron Beacon Journal. "Don’t worry about that. That’s going to be an improvement. It’s [about] me getting familiar with the [offensive linemen], learning how they do things, how they attack and handle certain situations.”
  • Rookie first-round pick Barkevious Mingo is expected to make his first NFL start Sunday, according to ESPN Radio in Cleveland. This landmark game for Mingo will come against Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has been a mentor of sorts to him. Both attended the same high school (in West Monroe, La.) and college (LSU), although not at the same time.
  • Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas will reach 100 consecutive starts on Sunday. Here's the full story in The Plain Dealer.
  • Vic Carucci of the team's official website believes cornerback Buster Skrine showed signs of progress last Sunday.
A look at what's happening on the Cleveland Browns' beat:
  • Wide receiver Josh Gordon said he received a text message from coach Rob Chudzinski reassuring him that there were “no plans” to trade him, according to ESPN Radio in Cleveland. “The fact that he said there wasn’t, I guess it makes me feel a little more comfortable,” Gordon said. “At the same time, anything can happen.”
  • Hometown quarterback Brian Hoyer, a former Browns season-ticket-holder, is looking forward to starting his first game in Cleveland. "Sure, it means a lot," Hoyer told The Plain Dealer. "I think this is the part when you guys ask me, 'Does it mean more?' Obviously, playing at home with the Cleveland fan base here, it's going to be special, but once they kick that ball off and you're between those white lines, that's what you've got to worry about."
  • Rookie first-round pick Barkevious Mingo would make his first start if injured linebackers Jabaal Sheard and Quentin Groves can't play. "You know (we're) still waiting to see how everything unfolds (on the injury front), but if I'm called upon I'm going to take the opportunity and run with it." Mingo said during a conference call, via The Plain Dealer. "I can if I'm called upon to do so."
  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said his remarks following the Trent Richardson trade -- which sounded like he felt the Browns were a lesser team without the running back -- were taken out of context. "I've never been one to game plan around a position player," Lewis said in a conference call, via The Plain Dealer. "Sometimes players are more athletic than others, sometimes backs have an ability to escape outside like a (Eric) Metcalf used to back in those days, Jamal Lewis' strength and so forth. These are very good NFL players and Cleveland has built a very fine football team, and we've got to play great football come Sunday to have an opportunity to win."
  • Tight end Jordan Cameron is working hard to remove "basketball player" from his athletic resume. “It is motivation, but frankly, I’m tired of hearing about basketball,” Cameron told the team's official website. “I’m not a basketball player. I’m a football player now, and I guess it helps. Tight ends these days have basketball backgrounds, but I don’t want to be known as a basketball player.”
  • Browns special adviser Jim Brown rips Mike Holmgren again and calls the Richardson trade a "brilliant move." Here's a transcript of Brown on Showtime's "Inside the NFL."
A look at what's happening on the Cleveland Browns beat:
  • Outside linebacker Paul Kruger is motivated to face his former team after playing only 17 snaps in the Ravens' Super Bowl triumph. "I don't know if disrespected is the right word," Kruger said, via The Plain Dealer. "I'd say more frustrated, just personally, not having to do with anybody else. I'm a competitive guy and I want to be in there on every play and to have limited reps in the biggest game of your life it is tough."
  • Running back Trent Richardson wants a bigger role. The Associated Press wrote the article, and the Akron Beacon Journal has a video of Richardson talking about his desire for a bigger workload.
  • Does quarterback Brandon Weeden have a good-enough supporting cast to succeed? The Akron Beacon Journal discusses this topic.
  • Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was upset at his team's lack of efficiency on third down. "You can’t be 1-of-14 on third down," Turner said, via the team's official website. "We’ve got to convert third downs. We’re working hard on third downs. If we convert third downs, you keep the game in more of a normal circumstance. We’re able to run the ball more and we’ll play better.”
  • Injury update: Rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) and cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) were upgraded from limited participation to full participation. Strong safety T.J. Ward (shoulder) returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday; he and wide receiver Travis Benjamin (thigh) were limited. Starting right guard Shawn Lauvao (high ankle sprain) and starting defensive end Ahtyba Rubin (calf) did not practice.
A look at what's happening on the Cleveland Browns beat:
  • Rookie first-round pick Barkevious Mingo has been cleared to play for the first time since suffering a bruised lung in an Aug. 15 preseason game. How much will be play? Coach Rob Chudzinski plans to monitor Mingo’s progress throughout the week before making a call on his status for Sunday. Mingo is listed as the backup to outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard and could play on special teams. “I feel better knowing that I’m able to play if I’m called upon,” Mingo said, via The Plain Dealer.
  • Brandon Weeden aspires to be Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco but is nowhere close, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “Neither one of us is the most fleet-of-foot guys, but if we need to get out of the pocket, we can make a throw,” Weeden said. “We can do that. I think there are some similarities there. [Flacco is] a big guy with a big arm. He extends the ball. And he’s got one thing that I don’t have — playoffs and all of those things. Yeah, he’s a good player, and if I can model my game after that, it would be a good one.”
  • Weeden ripped the Sports Illustrated article that alleges Oklahoma State players were paid by coaches on an incentive basis from 2001-11, The Plain Dealer reported. "I've read the first story that came out and literally I laughed throughout the entire thing," said Weeden, who played at Oklahoma State from 2008 to 2011. "It's comical for a lot of reasons and I won't go through the whole deal, but obviously it's dealing more with before I got there. First of all, clean slate, I didn't take any money or do anything like that. That wasn't the issue."
  • The Browns are 3-2 in their previous five meetings with defending Super Bowl champions, according to the team's official website. Cleveland even has one win on the road, winning at New Orleans on Oct. 24, 2010. "We’re excited about playing this game and embracing the challenge of what that brings in the opportunity to play the team that’s just won the Super Bowl,” Chudzinski said.
It's unlikely that pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo will play in the regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. But the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft is expected to play Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens.

If this timetable proves correct, the Browns and Mingo should feel very lucky. It was only two weeks ago when he was spitting up blood on the sideline of a preseason game and experienced shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with a bruised lung and was hospitalized for two days. It's remarkable that Mingo won't have to miss an extended amount of time. ESPN's Ed Werder reports that the Browns have scheduled a CT scan for Mingo on Monday, which should help make a determination on his status for Week 1.

The Browns will miss Mingo coming off the edge and going after Ryan Tannehill, but they can absorb his absence for one game. Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard have been the starting outside linebackers all summer, and the Browns have depth with Quentin Groves as another pass-rusher.

There are other players that the Browns will miss more in the opener. The Browns' top two options at right guard -- Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston -- are expected to be sidelined with ankle injuries, and wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games of the season.
Here are the morning headlines involving the Cleveland Browns:
  • The Browns are set to start converted tackle Oniel Cousins at right guard for the season opener, according to The Plain Dealer. The Browns lost their top two guards at that spot (Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston) to ankle injuries this month. “I have been pleased with how quickly he has made the transition,” coach Rob Chudzinski said of Cousins. “It’s not been perfect by any means, and he is still working and still needs to continue to work, but it has been relatively smooth.”
  • Chudzinski said some of his starters will make a brief appearance in the preseason finale Thursday night at Chicago, the Akron-Beacon Journal reports. “Generally, the guys who are with the ones would get 10-12 reps,” Chudzinski said.
  • First-rond pick Barkevious Mingo is improving from the bruised lung that has sidelined him since Aug. 15, according to the News-Herald. The rookie pass-rusher ran during a portion of practice Tuesday not open to reporters. There is no timetable for returning, but Chudzinski said Mingo will not have to go on the injured reserve-designated to return list.

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