Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo looks to sustain the early-season success he had in his rookie year and get to the quarterback in a new defensive scheme.
Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo runs a drill during a mandatory minicamp practice.
By Fred GreethamFOX Sports Ohio
BEREA, Ohio -- Barkevious Mingo had, by many observers, a less than stellar rookie season in 2013. After exploding on the scene in his first three games, his production dramatically fell off.
Mingo (6-4, 240) was the sixth overall pick from LSU. He arrived on the scene with a sack in his first three games after missing most of the preseason and the first game with a bruised lung.
However, after having three sacks in three games, Mingo finished with just five, which was good for second on the Browns. He also had the third-most sacks among rookies. He had 42 tackles and eight passes broken up to go with his sacks.
During this week's minicamp, Mingo has been active and flashing his speed and quickness. He doesn't appear any bigger than he was as a rookie and is listed as the same height and weight.
However, Mike Pettine's defensive system features the outside linebackers and Mingo likes what he sees so far.
"Definitely," Mingo said. "This defense is built on playmakers making plays. The outside linebacker in this defense is one of the playmakers. We're definitely getting a chance to make more plays and are definitely excited to do it."
Mingo said he feels the defense is well-suited to his abilities.
"Rushing the passer and pass coverage," he said. "You get to do all of that in this position and I'm excited to do it. This position, I think, is a good fit."
Pettine's defense last year with the Bills, when he served as defensive coordinator, set a franchise record with 57 sacks, good for second in the NFL. Three Bills players had 10 or more sacks, including Mario Williams with 13.
"I'm just excited to be in this defense," Mingo said after practice Wednesday. "This defense is fun. We're out here having fun. It's competitive and it draws it out of you. If you're not competitive, it will show up on film. The defense is fun. Players love playing in it."
Mingo said he has goals to improve his game all the way around.
"(I want to be) more effective at getting to the quarterback, making tackles and making plays," he said. "I'm trying to master all of the techniques and assignments at this position. I love the defense. Love being with the players on the team and love getting to work every day."
Mingo said the bottom line is his job is still to get to the quarterback.
"Some rules have changed, but at the end of the day, it's still the same position," Mingo said. "There are some different techniques to play in this particular defense but other than that, it's still the same."
Mingo said the defensive system is built on being on the same page.
"We get to move around," he said. "There is a lot of communication. It forces you to open up and embrace the whole defense. You have to know what the guys next to you are doing. You have to know everything and that's what makes it fun."
Sheard's Status: With the long-term extension to CB Joe Haden, the Browns will try and secure LB Jabaal Sheard to an extension. Sheard is beginning the last year of his rookie contract.
Sheard said he hopes he can stay with the Browns beyond this season.
"Hopefully, it works out," he said after practice Tuesday. "I'm just going to take it one step at a time. I can only worry about this year. I love it here. I love the fans here. I love the support I've been getting, the teammates. The locker room is growing on me. I feel more comfortable now than I did when I first got here."
Gordon Out: WR Josh Gordon was held out of practice Tuesday with what is believed to be a hamstring injury. Pettine said he will be held out on Thursday, as well.
"He has a mini ding," Pettine said. "He won't go (Thursday)."
It is the Browns policy to not discuss injuries. The Browns are still waiting from the NFL to hear if Gordon will be suspended for part or all of the season due to rumors he failed a drug test for marijuana earlier this year.
Most of the players that were on the stationary bike on Tuesday were still there on Wednesday, including: WR Travis Benjamin, WR Charles Johnson, RB Jourdan Brooks, RB Dion Lewis, RB Edwin Baker, WR Willie Snead, LB Tank Carder, DB Robert Nelson, LB Brandon Magee and DL Billy Winn.
LB Karlos Dansby, OL Joe Thomas and WR Miles Austin were held out of drills on Wednesday. Thomas worked with the starting unit on Tuesday.
OL Chris Faulk was not on the field for the second straight day. Faulk missed all of last season on the non-football injury/reserve list with a knee injury. Faulk participated in the OTAs and Pettine said he expects all players to be ready for training camp, with the exception of possibly WR Travis Benjamin.
Fight, Fight: A mini-brawl broke out between OL Garrett Gilkey and DL Phil Taylor during 11-on-11 near the end of practice. Normally, those disputes last a few seconds, the players continued to go at it until Taylor ripped Gilkey's helmet off and a few punches were thrown.
Pettine was asked if practice got a little 'feisty.'
"That's a good word for it," he said. "We talked about it afterwards. We want to be competitive, not combative. We're all wearing the same uniform. I think it's a byproduct of what we're trying to build here."
Gilkey has been in two fights in the spring practices that are open to the media. He got into it with DL Calvin Barnett during the OTAs.
"Some guys might be apt to (fight)," Pettine said. "(Gilkey's) had a good camp and will be in the mix for one of those inside (guard) jobs."
Quick Hits: ESPN's Ron Jaworski watched practice. Jaworski was critical of QB Johnny Manziel prior to the draft...Also, singer Michael Stanley watched practice, as did Mike Pettine, Sr., who was a legend in Pennsylvania High School football, winning five state championships coaching and compiling a career record of 326-32-4 at Central Bucks West in Doylestown, Pa....CB Pierre Desir intercepted a pass from QB Connor Shaw...WR Anthony Armstrong made a nice diving sideline catch from Manziel...Thursday is the final minicamp practice and the team is off until training camp begins late in July.