The injuries are beginning to pile up at the Cleveland Browns' training camp this summer, and when a common NFL cliche is that "the greatest ability is availability," any amount of time a player is sidelined cuts into his reps, and thus cuts into his chances for extended playing time once the regular season rolls around.
One of the more concerning of these injuries has befallen Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Mingo did not participate in the team's Wednesday practice. The status, severity or even type of injury is as yet unknown, with head coach Mike Pettine saying that, "He has something he was being evaluated for," and adding, "[w]e'll have some more [information Thursday]."
Mingo is coming off of a 2014 season in which he totaled 42 combined tackles and two sacks while playing with an injured shoulder that required offseason surgery. He was mostly held out of the team's OTAs and minicamp practices earlier in the spring and summer as a precaution, losing his first-team snaps to Scott Solomon, one of the offseason's defensive standouts.
Solomon was Mingo's first roadblock to getting a full complement of first-team defensive snaps during training camp. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said following June's minicamp that:
"[Mingo] is going to have to compete for playing time on early downs. He's going to have a role in our sub-packages. No one is guaranteed anything on the defense. Joe Haden knows that, Donte Whitner knows that and Karlos Dansby knows that. You're going to have to earn playing time. We're deep in every position group. Mingo is going to have to come back ready to go, and he's going to have to earn it."
Though O'Neil conceded that Mingo is, "by far our best outside linebacker in coverage," Solomon's pass-rushing prowess on early downs was threatening to eat into Mingo's playing time. Add into the mix this new, mysterious injury and it appears that Mingo is firmly behind the eight ball—not a good place to be for a player selected sixth-overall in the 2013 draft.
The hope was for a healthy Mingo to have a breakout 2015 season and shed some of the "bust" chatter that has been circling him after two years as no more than a marginal player in Cleveland's linebacking corps. But with another injury forcing him off the field, and other linebackers angling for practice and playing time and now Mingo is staring down the possibility of languishing in obscurity rather than living up to his draft pedigree. Once we have more information on Mingo's injury, we'll have a better understanding about where his career may be headed, but it cannot be denied that this latest development is not doing him any favors.