By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
CHICAGO: Browns rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is unlikely to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the Miami Dolphins, but he’s probable for Week 2 Sept. 15 against the Baltimore Ravens, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.
Mingo is scheduled to undergo a CT scan Monday, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Thursday. The test should help the Browns decide Mingo’s status for Week 1.
Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, hasn’t practiced or played since the first quarter of the Browns’ preseason win over the Detroit Lions on Aug. 15 and was subsequently diagnosed with a bruised lung. He did not travel to the preseason finale Thursday night against the Chicago Bears or the “dress rehearsal” exhibition game Aug. 24 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has repeatedly told reporters that no definitive timeline has been established for Mingo’s return.
Mingo has been working out on a stationary bike since last week. He did some running Tuesday and went through a weight-room workout Wednesday, a team spokesman said.
On Thursday night, Chudzinski said Mingo has responded well to the workouts.
“I’ve been pleased with his progress,” Chudzinski said. “We’ve been monitoring him and testing him. He’s been running. He’s been doing cardio work, and he’s been doing weightlifting activities. So these next six days will be big and we’ll see where it goes, and we’ll get him out there as soon as we can.”
Medical personnel began examining Mingo on the sideline against the Lions because he said he was spitting up blood and experiencing shortness of breath. Mingo was taken to the Cleveland Clinic’s main campus before the game ended and spent two nights in the hospital.
Mingo insisted he did not suffer any broken ribs. Mingo said he believes his lung was bruised during the opening kickoff against the Lions, but neither he nor the Browns have been able to identify one specific hit as the culprit.
Still, Chudzinski said Sunday that the diagnosis for Mingo is still a bruised lung.
Chudzinski was asked Tuesday whether the regular-season opener is a realistic target date for Mingo’s return.
“We have no timetable,” Chudzinski said. “We just have to see how he progresses and how he heals. It’s really just an individual thing. It’s from individual to individual on how quickly they heal.”
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden has seen Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden progress during the preseason, and he believes the organization should let Weeden continue to improve before deciding the upcoming season is a make or break one for him.
Eighteen quarterbacks have started for the Browns since their rebirth in 1999. On Sept. 8, Weeden will become the fourth one to start consecutive season openers during the expansion era.
Like almost all of the Browns’ starters, Weeden received the night off Thursday when the team faced the Bears in the preseason finale.
“I don’t know what direction Cleveland would go,” Gruden said Thursday during a conference call. “It’s easy to say it’s make or break, but who are you going with next year? I mean they’ve changed quarterbacks more than any team in NFL history in the last 20 years since they’ve been back in Cleveland. What’s the alternative? I think they have to try to build around Weeden. Maybe improve the receiving corps [and] let him work himself through this new offense. I’m confident he’s going to be a good pro quarterback. But if it doesn’t work out, coaches and quarterbacks don’t last long. I know that.”
If Weeden falters, the Browns certainly could draft a quarterback next May. But for the most part, Gruden is encouraged by what he has seen from Weeden, the 22nd overall pick from last year’s draft, heading into his second NFL season.
“He has a huge arm,” said Gruden, who won a Super Bowl as the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “He’s got a tremendous, live arm, and I thought he made more tight-window throws than almost any of the other college quarterbacks that came out that year. I think he’s on a football team that doesn’t have tremendous skill around him. I don’t think that his wide receiving corps is a polished group yet, but I do think he is developing. I like what he did against St. Louis. I really liked some of the things he did against Detroit. None of them played very well against Indianapolis. Weeden and the rest of the offense didn’t play very good. That was a setback and somewhat of a disappointment.”
Gruden also said new offensive coordinator Norv Turner should be able to help Weeden a great deal.
“Norv Turner as an offensive coach, you’d be lucky to have him running your offense if you ask me because he’s gotten it done wherever he’s been, he’s developed quarterbacks and he just has a very good temperament, a vast amount of knowledge, creativity,” Gruden said. “And I think he has guts to call plays in certain situations on game day that most people don’t.”
Inactives, lineup changes
Wide receiver Josh Gordon was the only true starter who played for the Browns on Thursday, and that’s because he’ll miss the first two regular-season games while serving a suspension from the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy. Gordon was in the action for two series and finished with two catches for 77 yards.
Gordon and fellow wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Josh Cooper, quarterback Brian Hoyer, running back Jamaine Cook, tight end Kellen Davis, left tackle Rashad Butler, left guard Caylin Hauptmann, center Jarrod Shaw, right guard Oniel Cousins and right tackle Martin Wallace were the starters on offense.
Cousins, whom Chudzinski said has the edge to start Week 1, played two series before being relieved by rookie Garrett Gilkey. Benjamin, the team’s top punt returner and a key backup in the receiving corps, was also limited to two possessions.
Nose tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, right end Billy Winn, left end Brian Sanford, outside linebackers Justin Cole and Quentin Groves, inside linebackers Tank Carder and James-Michael Johnson, right cornerback Akeem Auguste, left cornerback Leon McFadden, free safety Johnson Bademosi and strong safety Josh Aubrey were the starters on defense.
Winn and Groves, both of whom are significant contributors, played only two series.
New Browns outside linebacker Eric Martin did not make the trip to Chicago because he did not complete his physical in time, a team spokesman said. The Browns claimed Martin off waivers from the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.