By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Here comes Mingo: Rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo has been cleared to practice with full contact and play Sunday in Baltimore. The game is exactly four weeks after Mingo suffered a bruised lung running down on a Browns kickoff in the second preseason game on Aug. 15.
Mingo’s clearance came a week later than that of Eddie Royal, the San Diego receiver who suffered what was first reported as a bruised lung on Aug. 17.
Royal’s injury was easily detected, as he crashed down hard on his back after making an acrobatic catch in an 11-on-11 drill. Doctors later diagnosed Royal’s injury as a collapsed lung. He also suffered a concussion on the play. Royal played in the Chargers’ opening game on Monday night and had three receptions, two for touchdowns.
The origin of Mingo’s injury remains a mystery. Either the Browns still haven’t pinpointed it or don’t want to discuss it. It may be irrelevant now. Maybe not.
Mingo said he has no apprehension about returning to the field and being physical, though his mom is.
“She was worried,” he said. “She still is. She asks me every day how I’m doing. I let her know I’m feeling good. The coaches and doctors both feel I’m able to play. I’m ready to play.”
Will he play and how much?: Coach Rob Chudzinski wouldn’t say if Mingo actually would play, just that he has been cleared to play. He probably will follow NFL coach’s decorum and keep the Ravens in the dark most of, if not, all week.
Chudzinski was asked if Mingo would return to special teams, on which he suffered the injury and worked regularly during preseason.
“We’ll still be working him (on special teams) and get him out there and see where he’s at conditionally and those things and make an assessment,” Chudzinski said.
On defense, Mingo would be expected to return to the rotation with Jabaal Sheard at right outside linebacker, with Paul Kruger starting on the left side and backed up by Quentin Groves.
In some sub defenses, Kruger and Sheard may line up as defensive ends, with Desmond Bryant moving inside to join Ahtyba Rubin (who’s out with a calf injury) or Phil Taylor. In those cases, Mingo and Groves could also be on the field.
“I think we’ll get a pretty good rotation,” Chudzinski said. “They all have something they bring to the table. That’s a strength of us.”
On a conference call, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Mingo’s return to practice “is news to me.
“That’d be a big challenge for us,” Harbaugh said. “We know him from the draft, that’s all we would really have (to go on). He’s a talented guy. I’m pretty sure we won’t know for sure (if he plays) until kickoff.”
Mingo’s return with fresh legs – teammates have been kidding him about that, he said – would seem to help the Browns’ defense from gassing out in the fourth quarter.
Through three quarters in the opener, the Browns sacked Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill four times, held him to 183 passing yards and one touchdown, intercepted him once (and dropped two interceptions). Tannehill had a 71.9 passer rating through three quarters.
But in the fourth quarter, Tannehill completed seven of eight passes for 89 yards in leading his team to the touchdown that put the 23-10 game away. His rating in the fourth quarter was 113.0.
“I’m just very impressed with what you see on tape,” Harbaugh said of the new Browns’ defense. “Their front seven, I don’t know if we’ve seen a better front seven on tape right now. They’re playing exceptionally well in the run and pass, and they’re very deep. I think they’ve added a lot of great personnel. Very well coached, it’s a great scheme and we have a lot of respect for them and the scheme.”
Mingo’s expectations: “It’s very exciting,” Mingo said about making his NFL debut. “I’ve been waiting. I watched last week and I just wanted to get back on the field and now this is the week I can do that.
Asked about feeling any trepidation about that first hit, Mingo said, “I’m just ready to play. Hit, no hit, tackle, sack, it doesn’t matter.”
It will be the Ravens’ first home game since winning Super Bowl 47, and a small pre-game ceremony will include unfurling a championship banner.
“They’re welcoming back the Super Bowl champs,” Mingo said. “The fans will be extra rowdy. It’s gonna be fun. You like to play in those kind of games. At least from a defensive standpoint, I like it.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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