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Barkevious Mingo puts ‘Rookie Wall’ behind him

Posted Aug 14, 2014

Browns’ outside linebacker showing dramatic improvement over last year.

Barkevious Mingo

Barkevious Mingo still shudders at the thought of a fierce collision he had as a rookie outside linebacker for the Cleveland Browns last season.

But the encounter, which resulted in a significant decline in his performance through a large portion of the schedule, wasn’t with another player.

“They call it the ‘Rookie Wall,’” Mingo said. “It hits everybody and looking back on it, it’s a terrible thing.”

Mingo began last season with a huge splash, becoming the first rookie since Tommy Kelly (Oakland) in 2004 to register a sack in each of his first three NFL games. Working mostly in a reserve role, he wound end up picking up only two more sacks through the balance of the season. He struggled mightily in all aspect of his game, especially pass coverage.

However, since the start of training camp, Mingo has shown dramatic improvement, enough to earn a starting spot. He was highly impressive during the time he played in last Saturday night’s preseason-opener at Detroit.

Mingo doesn’t remember exactly when he hit the “Rookie Wall,” but he recalls how awful it was to experience“It’s just a grind,” he said. “You really don’t want to wake up. You’re like, ‘We’ve got to go practice, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that.’ But then, at the end of the day, you realize why you started playing this game. You started playing this game because it was fun. And at that point, you’re starting to question that, but moving past that, it’s back to what it is; it’s a childhood game. You enjoy playing it.

“But overcoming that and coming into your second year, you feel good about (knowing) what offenses are doing. You learn how to take the knowledge that coaches give you and apply it to games and just practice better. You know what to expect and everything comes faster.”

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NFL …

WASHINGTON REDSKINS defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said there was a noticeable improvement in the team’s tackling in its preseason-opener against the New England Patriots. And he attributes it to first-year coach Jay Gruden having the club practice more often in pads in training camp. “Guys are going at it and hitting,” Haslett was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. “I think that helps. “If you don’t practice your trade, it’s hard to be good at anything. If you don’t tackle in practice, it’s hard to be good.”

NOT SURPRISINGLY, defensive backs in the NFL are starting to complain about the league’s emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact with receivers. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Bears assistant coach Chris Harris came up with the following penalty data after the first week of preseason games: 53 for defensive holding, 27 for illegal contact, and 15 for pass interference. “It’s a passing league,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings was quoted as saying in the Sun-Times. “It’s getting out of hand.” Added Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden, “No one wants to see a good defensive game of 3-0, 6-0 anymore.”

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