HOUSTON – Barkevious Mingo has turned the page on his time with the Cleveland Browns.
The No. 6 pick of the 2013 NFL draft is now in New England, playing a very different role than the one most talent evaluators expected when the former LSU star was taken in the top 10.
Mingo is mostly a special teams player in New England, using his freakish speed and quickness in the kicking game instead of getting after quarterbacks.
But he wasn't in the mood to offer a lot of thoughts on his time in Cleveland at media night Monday.
"You can never control what goes on upstairs, but it's our job to control what we can control, prepare, go out and play to the best of our ability," Mingo said.
Mingo was supposed to be the Browns' version of Atlanta Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley after a tantalizing career at LSU, and for at least one season, it looked like he had a chance. Despite suffering a bruised lung in a preseason game, Mingo made five sacks as a rookie, setting the kind of foundation that sometimes turns into a colossal leap forward.
Mingo's never came.
Unable to keep weight on his frame, Mingo made just two sacks in 2014 and then faded into the background in 2015, recording a mere three tackles. Near the end of training camp in 2016, Cleveland experimented moving him to inside linebacker, then cut ties with Mingo by trading him to New England for a fifth-round pick.
Mingo didn't want to talk about why things went wrong in Cleveland at the Super Bowl this week. When he reflects on his time with the Browns, he remembers mostly the relationships he built there.
"My teammates there were great guys, and I'm happy as I was able to play with those guys," Mingo said. "But it's a different year, I'm here, ready to go."
When the Patriots traded for Mingo, the move was widely hailed as another case of New England landing a player they could develop better than anybody else.
But a key role hasn't materialized. Mingo made just four tackles on defense this season; he added seven more on special teams.
Mingo finds himself reveling in team success instead, the kind of success that never came in Cleveland. What comes after the Super Bowl is hard to tell; Mingo said his focus is on Sunday.
"This sport, along with all sports, is better when you're winning," Mingo said. "We have a chance to play in the last game. All that work we put in early in the season is paying off."