"Next year's going to be a different story," he told ESPN.
Mingo has just three sacks in his last 23 games. He has seven in two seasons. The nearly $7 million he has been paid during that time - not including his signing bonus - is looking like a bad deal. But the super-athletic Mingo believes he can turn it into a good deal by living up to his potential.
First things first. He must play without pain, which is what a labrum injury that required offseason arthroscopic surgery caused in 2014. Mingo anticipates being "pretty close to all go" in workouts.
"Just waiting on final word from the trainers," he said. "As a competitor, you're going to always say you feel good. You can have a broken leg and I'm good enough to play. I felt like for the most part last year I was good enough to play. After the games, it was a different story. ... The season's over, now I have a lot of rest and got it fixed."
Mingo did manage to contribute to 42 tackles in 2014 for the second straight season.
O'Neil indicated Mingo likely would have made a bigger impact last season, but he injured his shoulder in the first game and played hurt all season. He underwent surgery in February.
“It was so disappointing because I really liked how he was coming on through the preseason and all of training camp,” O’Neil said, per the team's official website. “I see him downstairs every day rehabbing his [tail] off.”
As for Desir, he got reps late in the season and impressed in a limited amount of playing time. The 2014 fourth-round pick wasn't expected to play a down as a rookie.
“I’m really excited about him because he has such a pro mentality,” O’Neil said. “We called on him at the end of the season and he was kind of a guy that we were counting on redshirting the entire year.
“One of the big questions marks about Desir: Was he going to stick his face in the run game? And he showed that he would. And he did a (darn) good job at the line of scrimmage pressing some receivers.”
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be 100 percent by training camp,” Mingo said. “Right now, the shoulder is feeling great. I’ve been getting the rehab, taking all the necessary steps to come back stronger so I can contribute a lot more next year.”
Mingo played pretty much the entire 2014 season with a shoulder injury after getting hurt in the season opener against the Steelers. On top of playing hurt, Mingo had to adjust to coach Mike Pettine's defensive scheme, which required Mingo to drop back in pass coverage more than use him as a pass rusher.
Mingo hasn't quite lived up to the expectations that followed him as a high first-round draft pick in 2013, but that hasn't put a damper on his outlook.
“I feel next year will be a good year,” Mingo said. “I have the experience under my belt. I know what to expect, and it’s the same playbook as last year, so I’ll have that as an advantage as well. Now it’s just coming down to getting ready to play and putting it on the field.”
Mingo added that he felt like he was playing the entire 2014 season with a sling on his left arm and that he couldn't even lift the arm above his head while wearing shoulder pads. He insisted he could still produce on the field and postponed the surgery until the offseason.
"We don’t want to make excuses for a guy," coach Mike Pettine said. "But this is a guy that could have shut it down. He decided to go ahead and play with the harness. To me, that’s a credit to him. There’s a level of consistency that he needs to achieve, but I think for the most part that he trended upward as the season went on as he got a little bit more comfortable in the role."
Pettine indicated that Mingo is progressing well enough that the linebacker might be able to participate in OTAs in April.
It's unclear whether the injury will force Mingo to miss any offseason workout time.
Appearing in 15 games, Mingo finished the year with 42 tackles and two sacks.
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