On his third day in the Patriots locker room, Barkevious Mingo was still getting settled. He looked up and down his stall and seemed to hardly recognize what he was looking at.
It was almost bare, but there were a few items hung up. There was gear strewn about. There were cleats he didn't recognize. He shrugged his shoulders, still processing things, unsure of where the footwear came from, and he took off. He had places to be, work to get done. He didn't have time to play homemaker.
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The work that Mingo has put in during his brief time with the Patriots since being traded by the Browns last week paid off when he took the field in New England's preseason finale Thursday night. He was all over the field, used as an edge defender as well as an off-the-line linebacker, recording six tackles, one tackle for a loss, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Regardless of what the stat line said, a statement was made: Mingo has the type of athleticism that could allow coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to deploy him in a variety of roles.
"He lived in the facility for the last week," Belichick said after the game. "He didn't go back to Cleveland. He came from Tampa, where they were practicing with Carolina, came back [to Foxboro from Carolina] with us. Players had an off day, [but] he spent the whole day in the facility with the coaches going through material to get caught up.
"[He] showed a lot of commitment to try to pick up the new information, tried to understand what we were doing, watching the film of the games that we've played, understand the techniques and how we're playing things and all that. He worked really hard, took a lot of plays in practice to get somewhat comfortable with what we're doing. It's obviously going to be a work in progress here. It's only been a week. But, like I said, he's smart, he learns well and he works hard so you can check all those boxes."
Mingo made his presence felt quickly as he entered the game in the first quarter and got his hands on the football for a strip sack (which was eventually wiped away due to a Patriots penalty) on his third snap. On the very next play, he and corner Justin Coleman forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive lineman Anthony Johnson. He also showed up in run support, dropped into coverage at times, and he contributed on special teams -- downing a Ryan Allen punt at the Giants four-yard line in the first quarter.
Mingo admitted he was excited to get a sense for what exactly he might be able to bring to the field now that he's in a different situation, on a different team, playing for different coaches.
"Definitely," he said with a smile. "It's a new team. These guys wanna see what I can do. I want to see what I can do in this defense."
Given the amount of work he's put in thus far to learn the system, if he can keep it up, he'll have a chance to do quite a bit.
Organizing his locker, though, may have to wait.
"There's still," he said, "a lot more to go."