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Browns notebook: With outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo sidelined, Quentin Groves likely to start against Colts

By Nate Ulrich 
and Ryan Lewis
Beacon Journal sports writers

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BEREA: Browns starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard sat out practice Wednesday with an injured knee, but he is listed as day-to-day, coach Rob Chudzinski said through a team spokesman.

Rookie Barkevious Mingo is Sheard’s backup, but he’s still out with a bruised lung.

With Sheard sidelined, Quentin Groves practiced Wednesday with the first-team defense opposite starting left outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Sheard, meanwhile, did abdominal workouts on the side with a trainer. His injury is not believed to be serious.

As Sheard and Mingo recover, Groves will likely start Saturday when the Browns visit the Indianapolis Colts for the third preseason game. Chudzinski said most of the starters will play the entire first half and one series in the third quarter.

Groves is the backup left outside linebacker. But he started seven games last season under the guidance of new Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton while the two were members of the Arizona Cardinals.

“You’re only a blueprint of your head, and Ray’s the head of our defense,” Groves said in a recent interview. “He loves to get after the quarterback and do things like that. That’s the identity we take. He’s not an exciting, exciting guy, but at the same time he’s a great guy to play for because he gets your fired up. He knows how to get you going.”

Groves compiled 46 tackles and four sacks last season.

“My style, I’m more of a speed rusher,” Groves said. “Speed, speed to power.”

After Horton was hired by the Browns, they signed Groves in March to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.

“He adds fantastic depth on our first-, second- and third-down defense, and special teams,” Horton said. “He has been one of our better leaders on our team.”

Chudzinski said it’s still a mystery when Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, will be cleared to return. He has been ruled out against the Colts.

“I don’t have any update other than he’s improved,” Chudzinski said. “The timeline, nobody really knows exactly. It’s just a matter of how quickly his body heals.”

Mingo said he has not spit up blood or experienced shortness of breath since Thursday night, when he believes he suffered the bruised lung against the Detroit Lions. Mingo also said he had never experienced those symptoms before.

“Everything is feeling good,” said Mingo, who was most recently checked by doctors Tuesday. “Everyone is happy with the progress, and now we’re just waiting to see what the doctors say so we can get back.”

Mingo said he has done some running.

“A little, but they [the doctors] really don’t want me to,” Mingo said.

Mingo still believes he suffered the injury during the opening kickoff against the Lions. But he doesn’t think he took a big hit that can definitively be identified as the culprit.

“I was still fine after the game,” Mingo said. “It’s just freakish.”

Quick trip

Browns defensive end Brian Sanford made a roughly 4,000-mile roundtrip in less than 48 hours and for the most part, only unpacked his pajamas.

Sanford was traded to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday in exchange for guard John Moffitt. On Tuesday, as Moffitt walked onto the practice field in Berea, Chudzinski escorted him back into the facility, and the Browns voided the trade because they had concerns about Moffitt’s health.

In the meantime, Sanford was in Seattle going through a four- or five-hour physical.

His flight departed from Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. Monday. He only had a few hours to sleep before the physical, and he never put on a Seahawks jersey before catching a flight back to Cleveland, which landed at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Only thing I lost, really, was sleep,” Sanford said Wednesday before practicing with the Browns. “I went into the physical, it happened and I felt like I was right back on a plane again. ... It’s a couple cups of coffee and back to work.

“I’m happy I’m still here. I don’t know how it really works. I’ve never been through a trade. I’ve been [with the Browns] for three years, and I’m trying to stay here. I love the Browns. I don’t want to leave this locker.”

Chudzinski wouldn’t discuss why the Browns were concerned with Moffitt’s health. He underwent knee surgery two years ago and elbow surgery last summer.

After the deal was voided, the Seahawks traded Moffitt to the Denver Broncos.

“Every organization’s different,” Chudzinski said. “Out of respect for any player in this situation, I’m not going to get into any details about that.”

Guard situation

With the trade for Moffitt nullified, the Browns are back in the market for a guard because Shawn Lauvao (high ankle sprain and arthroscopic ankle surgery) and Jason Pinkston (high ankle sprain) will miss time early in the regular season.

“This is the time of year when you’re looking for everything,” Chudzinski said. “So our scouting department is burning the midnight oil, looking around at all positions.”

Rookie Garrett Gilkey and veteran backup tackle Oniel Cousins rotated at right guard Wednesday with the first-team offense. John Greco is the starting left guard.

Top fullback

Chudzinski gave Chris Ogbonnaya the nod as the team’s No. 1 fullback Wednesday.

With Dion Lewis (fractured fibula) expected to be out for the entire season and Montario Hardesty (arthroscopic knee surgery) set to miss the beginning of it, Ogbonnaya will also play some tailback to spell starter Trent Richardson.

“From a fullback standpoint, a tailback standpoint, we put Chris on the depth chart as a first teamer,” Chudzinski said. “I think he’s a role player that is a first teamer in many situations.”

Playing time

Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, will be one of the starters who won’t play into the third quarter against the Colts, Chudzinski said.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon will start against the Colts, even though the NFL suspended him for the first two regular-season games because he violated its substance-abuse policy.

Chudzinski said it has yet to be determined whether wide receiver David Nelson (bone bruise in right knee) will play against the Colts. Nelson practiced Wednesday.

Chudzinski also hasn’t determined whether the starters will play in the preseason finale Aug. 29 on the road against the Chicago Bears.

“I have not [decided],” Chudzinski said. “It’s yet to be determined, and we’ll base it on where we’re at after this week.”

Injury updates

Cornerback Chris Owens was limited Wednesday with a sore foot, the same one he strained Aug. 7, Chudzinski said through a team spokesman.

As a result, rookie Leon McFadden took some reps with the first-team defense along with corners Joe Haden and Buster Skrine in the nickel package. He had two interceptions.

Billy Winn worked at right defensive end with the first-team defense while starter Desmond Bryant (back spasms) remained sidelined. Wide receiver Davone Bess received a day off to rest, Chudzinski said.

Cornerback Trevin Wade (sprained AC joint in right shoulder) said he doesn’t know exactly how long he’ll be out, but he’s confident he’ll be fine. Wade has not practiced since suffering the injury Saturday.

“In college, I broke a rib and my collarbone,” Wade said. “I came back early from that and played. Easy. No problem.”

In addition to Wade, wide receivers Jordan Norwood (hamstring) and Naaman Roosevelt (hamstring), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained AC joint in shoulder), kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin) and punter T.J. Conley (groin) were among those who continued to sit out.

Training camp attendance

A total of 56,306 people attended training camp in the 13 practices open to the public and Family Night at FirstEnergy Stadium on Aug. 3, according to the Browns. The Browns averaged 2,475 fans per practice. It was the second-highest average since at least 2005 but was down from last year (2,652).

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.


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