Cleveland Browns minicamp: 5 things you need to know

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Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam talks with Cleveland Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo (51) during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns are looking to drive competition across the roster, and while most of the focus has been on the offensive and defensive lines, outside linebacker is also apparently going to be a position to watch this summer.

We have to think that Paul Kruger is set at one outside linebacker spot, but while many would assume that Barkevious Mingo would hold down the spot opposite Kruger, defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil isn’t ready to make that call just yet.

“When we came out of training camp last year, we thought Mingo was one of our best outside backers,” O’Neil told the team’s website. We all know about the injury he suffered in play two of the season. He is going to have to compete for playing time on early downs. He’s going to have a role in our sub-packages. No one is guaranteed anything on the defense. You’re going to have to earn playing time. We’re deep in every position group. Mingo is going to have to come back ready to go, and he’s going to have to earn it.”

One player who might be pushing Mingo for playing time is fourth-year player Scott Solomon.

“Scott is very quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the defense. He embodies everything we talk about when we say ‘Play Like a Brown,’ ” O’Neil said. “I think the offense calls him ‘Bloodbath’ because it’s like a heat-seeking missile coming off the edge. I do see him competing with Armonty Bryant once he’s full go at the rush linebacker position. I see him getting a considerable amount of reps on early downs. He’s going to have to earn his reps in later downs in passing situations, but he is definitely going to help us on the edge in the run game.”

But don’t despair Mingo fans, the athletic Mingo is still going to have a role in the defensive game plan.

“I think where Mingo has really taken a step this year is he’s been able to participate in all of the passing stuff, all of the 7-on-7 drills with the red shirt on,” O’Neil said. “Coming out of LSU, he had no experience with that stuff. Right now, he’s by far our best linebacker in coverage, our best outside backer. Now, we’re going to see where he is when we get back to training camp and the pads come on of how he is at outside backer setting the edge, how he is as a defensive end rushing the quarterback and that kind of stuff.

“We were very optimistic about Mingo coming out of training camp last year. We’ve improved the depth, we’ve improved the competition in that room with a Scott Solomon, a Nate Orchard, like we have in every room. Guys are going to have to earn it. We don’t care where you were drafted, when you were drafted, how much you’re getting paid; the best 11 guys and the guys who earn their roles are the guys who are going to play.”

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