The Bengals are having their infirmary issues in the secondary. With Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson missing two practices this week dealing with bum hamstrings, Cincinnati could have two backup players starting against the Cleveland Browns this week.
The Cleveland Browns aren't without their own issues.
Rookie Barkevious Mingo will get his first career start if linebacker Jabaal Sheard, who has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, is unable to go with a knee. During 35 career games played, Sheard has generated 17.0 quarterback sacks; yet, only one has come against the Cincinnati Bengals in four career games. Mingo, on the other hand, has posted a quarterback sack in every game he's played in the NFL.
"He's done well against the run. He's improved in that area tremendously. He's a guy that plays with really good leverage, and he plays stronger than what you would expect or think because he plays with such good leverage," Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said of Mingo. "Obviously, his athleticism allows him to do some things and create some problems with guys that are trying to block him."
There's no doubt that Mingo has the talent. But his conditioning could be an issue right now with the injuries mounting at linebacker. Backup Quentin Groves is another likely scratch after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Ravens in week two. Initial reports suggest that Groves could miss 4-6 weeks at best, but he's also a candidate for the IR with the designation to return.
With Groves and Sheard out, Mingo and former Ravens defensive lineman Paul Kruger would get the start with rookies Paul Hazel and Eric Martin backing up both players respectively.
Interestingly, Mingo will get his first shot against Andrew Whitworth. Both players graduated from the same West Monroe, Lousiana high school and LSU.
"He's such a good person and a role model for a lot of kids who have aspirations to play at (the NFL) level," Mingo said in August. "He has done it the right way for many years now and he continues to do it."
The story is known for when Whitworth attended a high school basketball game four years ago, with Mingo on the squad, took the entire team out for a celebratory dinner after winning a big game.
"We won a big tournament game and, I don’t even know why he was at the game, but he comes into the locker room and tells us he’s taking everyone out to eat," said Mingo who grew up in the same hometown as Whitworth via Cleveland.com.
"This guy is playing in the NFL and he’s taking kids from his old high school out to dinner. That’s the kind of stuff he does. The community loves him, the school loves him. I can just imagine what they think of him in Cincinnati."