According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, Barkevious Mingo has been cleared for contact and is expected to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Head Coach Rob Chudzinski confirmed the report in his press conference. This was the last hurdle he needed to get over to get going and since he has been able to work out and sprint, he should be near or at 100% on Sunday. Having Mingo’s unique skill available could make a huge difference for the Browns front seven, which was an incredibly effective unit against the Miami Dolphins without him.
The Browns run defense was dominant in the Dolphins game and while they may give up more than 20 yards this week, it seems reasonable to expect they will put the Ravens and Joe Flacco in some obvious passing situations. Having Mingo, who can use his speed and quickness off of the edge gives the Ravens offensive line more in which to prepare. Not only do they have to prepare for Mingo, but it allows Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger, and Quentin Groves to be fresher. Going from a player like Sheard or Kruger to Mingo is a completely different experience. The former use more power and are not quite as quick while Mingo has lightning speed with the potential to beat them around the edge. Plus, Ray Horton may put Sheard, Kruger and Mingo on the field at the same time to really put stress on the blocking scheme.
Michael Oher, the Ravens right tackle went down with an injury against the Broncos in their opener and did not return to the game. It remains to be seen if he will play or how close to 100% he will be in the game. If he cannot go, the Ravens could move Kelechi Osemele from left guard to right tackle and put Jah Reid in at left guard or just put Reid in at right tackle. On the other side, Bryant McKinnie makes it a habit to try to play himself into shape as the season rolls along so he tends to start out poorly and get better as the season progresses. Last year, he was held out of a few games before he went on a great run in the playoffs.
Mingo has a lot of work to do with his technique, hand use, and angles but his exceptional athletic ability is a mismatch and really creates a problem, especially for a team like the Ravens who are a line with a ton of size and length. A player like Mingo who can use speed and bend underneath blocks could give them problems. Just having him available makes the team better and given where the offense was in week 1, the defense is going to continue to be counted on to deliver a huge performance if they are going to win.