In Thursday night's preseason finale -- the only true test the former first-round pick would have to show off for his new coaches -- Mingo flashed speed and hustle, earning six tackles, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble that was wiped out by a penalty and aided in another forced fumble.
"He lived in the facility for the last week," Bill Belichick said of after the game, via CSN New England. "He didn't go back to Cleveland. He came from Tampa, where they were practicing with Carolina, came back (to Foxborough 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."
Belichick gave up a fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for the right to give Mingo a second shot at an NFL career. Given the price tag, it seemed logical Mingo would be given a roster spot to start the season -- the Pats wouldn't surrender a fifth-rounder for a one-week tryout. His play Thursday cements that belief. Belichick using the words "work in progress" reinforces the notion he intends to give time for that progress to happen.
Mingo still doesn't have the size of a typical pass rusher, despite working with a bodybuilding granny all offseason. Yet his speed flashed Thursday night. If the Patriots can scheme ways to get Mingo off or around blocks, the 25-year-old still has the athleticism to make plays.
Perhaps it's becoming cliché to say 'if anyone can find a spot for him, it's Belichick' when there are also instances where a BB flyer didn't work out (Terrance Knighton attempting a switch to a two-gap system this offseason, for instance). But for a player like Mingo who doesn't fit any NFL position perfectly, Belichick's creativity and flexibility might be a godsend for a young player needing a change of scenery.