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Browns' rookie Mingo to miss season opener

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Barkevious Mingo's NFL debut has been delayed for at least another week.

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The Browns' speedy rookie linebacker will not play in Sunday's season opener against Miami as he continues to recover from a bruised lung sustained in an exhibition game last month.

Although he returned to practice on a limited basis this week, Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft, has not been cleared for contact and will watch this week.

``I'm disappointed,'' Mingo said after Friday's practice. ``I want to be out there with the team. I want to be out there in my first game. But look on the bright side, I'm doing better and I'm just getting ready to come back whenever they let me come back.''

Mingo said he was injured while covering the opening kickoff in an Aug. 15 game against Detroit. He experienced shortness of breath and spit up some blood while he was on the sideline. Mingo was hospitalized for two days at The Cleveland Clinic with the unusual injury that had the Browns worried about their top pick.

This week, Mingo returned to practice but was restricted to positional drills and kept out of any contact situations. When the other Browns linebackers hit the blocking sled, Mingo, who said he has not had any further symptoms from the hit, either stood to the side and watched or ran sprints by himself.

It's not known when Mingo will be back, and he didn't seem overly optimistic it will be in Week 2.

``I'm coming back whenever they let me,'' he said. ``We'll see what they say whenever they say it. The coaches, the doctors, whenever they tell me I can go out, then I'll go back.''

Mingo would not say if he underwent further medical tests this week or if doctors were encouraged by his progress, twice saying ``that's personal.''

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski provided few details about Mingo's status other than to say he's improving.

``We've been evaluating and testing him on a daily basis, the doctors have been constantly doing that,'' Chudzinski said. ``So we'll hold him out, and he's not ready to go yet for this week.''

The first-round pick may not be the only Browns player missing Sunday.

Starting left defensive end Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and right cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) were kept out of practice with recent injuries and are listed as questionable - a 50 percent chance of playing - for Sunday. Chudzinski said both players sustained their injuries during Thursday's workout.

Chudzinski said Rubin's ailment is not related to the calf injury that caused him to miss three games last season. Chudzinski said both players will receive treatment in the next 48 hours in the hopes they can play.

The Browns have depth on the defensive line, but losing Rubin would hurt. Second-year end John Hughes is listed as Rubin's backup and Billy Winn, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and rookie Armonty Bryant could all be rotated in by coordinator Ray Horton.

If Skrine is out, Chris Owens will start opposite Joe Haden and rookie Leon McFadden would be thrown into the nickel package.

``I feel like I just have to be prepared for whenever my number's called,'' said McFadden, a third-round pick. ``So that's being mentally prepared, studying my playbook and when I go out there, give it my all.''

Mingo was very guarded while discussing his injury and recovery. He reiterated he bruised his lung through impact, but not from any extraordinary contact.

``It wasn't a knockout hit, just a normal hit,'' he said. ``I shed it and kept running. I really didn't think too much of it but you know, it is what it is.''

He wasn't able to practice fully this week, but it certainly beat standing around as his teammates prepared for the season.

``It was kind of getting boring watching,'' he said, flashing a smile. ``I needed to get out there and so I was happy this week that I was able to get out there and do that. I feel great. The guys make jokes, they call me ``Fresh Legs'' because I haven't been doing anything, but I feel good.''

Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson sympathized with his young teammate's frustration at not being able to play, but said it's something he has to handle.

``That's part of this business,'' said Jackson, who missed most of two seasons with chest injuries. ``You never know what turn your career's gonna go in. The only positive, if I'm Mingo, you're happy it happened early. You want to take your time.

``A lot of guys haven't experienced that particular injury or heard of it. That's something you want to be overly precautious about. But he'll have his time. It's a long season, this is just one year. He's not on a four-year scholarship, so he'll be here as long as those wheels can turn and he's healthy. He'll be fine.''

--

NOTES: Cleveland's players voted Jackson, Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, and linebacker Quentin Groves captains for the season. Chudzinski will choose a fourth each week and selected wide receiver Davone Bess for Sunday's game. Bess spent five seasons with Miami before he was traded to Cleveland. ... Chudzinski wouldn't respond to criticism by Carolina WR Steve Smith, who took a shot at Chudzinski, the Panthers' offensive coordinator last season, during a conference call this week. Smith said Chudzinski's play calling was affected because ``he was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job.''

--

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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The Associated Press
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