Athleticism is the key to the game of Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
BEREA, Ohio -- Although undersized in terms of his slender frame to play defensive line at the NFL level, Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo used his athleticism to make plays during his rookie season last fall.
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And while Mingo is up in weight to the "high 230s" according to first-year Browns coach Mike Pettine, he has not lost his athleticism, and nowhere was that more evident than during the first practice of training camp two weeks ago, as he dropped back into coverage and intercepted a pass.
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He intercepted another pass in last Saturday's Family Day scrimmage at The University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium.
"I don't know if all you guys were here in the offseason workouts, but I dropped a couple," Mingo said. "That was one thing I needed to work on. (Defensive coordinator Jim) O'Neil made me get on JUGS (machine) one day because I dropped five.
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"It's just something to work on in the offseason and get better at and come out here and show it. It was a good day to show it because I know a lot of the guys would have hounded me if I dropped it, but I caught it."
In less than 10 practices during training camp, Mingo has made a quick impression on the coaching staff and his teammates.
"(I'm) very pleased with how he came back," Pettine said. "(It's the) heaviest he's ever been, still ran the conditioning test very well. I think he would've passed it if he ran it with the defensive backs, and he's a guy that you could tell, hopefully, the switch had been flipped, and all signs are pointing that way. He got into the playbook and showed up ready to work.
"I just think his preparation, his willingness in talking to him about getting his weight up a little bit, it's not an easy transition for him. He's going from just two years ago was a defensive end who had his hand down all the time. His world was completely different from what we're asking from him now. He's out in space, much more involved in coverage. (We) can still take advantage of his pass rush ability, but as far as a true, radical position change, it's right up there with him. He's been asked to do some different things than what he's used to."
Fellow outside linebacker Paul Kruger added, "He's just a really athletic guy who has a lot of explosion, and not only explosion off the line. He's just one of those guys that has some special talents."
As a rookie, Mingo registered a sack on his very first play in a 14-6 loss at the Baltimore Ravens last September. However, Mingo tallied only four more sacks over the final 14 games of the season, and at times, struggled in coverage.
In addition to being up in weight, Mingo is a year smarter when it comes to understanding what opposing offenses want to do and how they plan to attack him.
"To an extent, it gets wiped out, but you never forget the concepts and the speed of the game and that aspect of the game," Mingo said. "Last year, I learned a lot of lessons, stuff that you can't draw on the board. I feel like I'm using that this year to help me be a better player.
"I guess I'll be asked to do a little more in coverage. I'm fine with that. I feel comfortable doing that. I'm just ready to play."