Barkevious Mingo couldn't catch his breath and didn't think much of it. Then, the rookie linebacker coughed up blood and realized he needed help.
The Browns are thankful he asked for it.
Mingo was released from the hospital Saturday after a two-night stay at The Cleveland Clinic because of a bruised lung. After watching his teammates practice, the first-round pick discussed his ordeal and the unusual injury he believes happened on the opening kickoff in Thursday night's exhibition win over Detroit.
"I'm perfectly fine and my ribs are perfect," an upbeat Mingo said, flashing his usual smile. "I had no pain and no bruising, which kind of surprised the doctors, as well. Honestly, if it wasn't for the shortness of breath I was having, I probably would have still been out there playing."
Following his release from the hospital, Mingo went to the Browns' training facility and visited with defensive coordinator Ray Horton and others at lunch. Later, he walked onto the practice field about 15 minutes into the workout and briefly met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and coach Rob Chudzinski.
Mingo tried to downplay an injury that could have been worse.
"When I couldn't catch my breath, I went to my coach, who sent me to the trainers," the No. 6 overall pick said. "They made the decision, which was the right one, to be extra cautious and send me to the hospital. I appreciate that, obviously, but I'm fine. I'm really fine."
Mingo said nothing happened on the opening kickoff to make him think he was hurt.
"I ran down and didn't feel right," he said. "I didn't feel like a hit was delivered that hard. I would think (a bruised lung) it'd be serious, but I feel fine. They told me to take it easy for a couple days, and when the coaches and doctors tell me I'm able to come back, I'll be out there."
When he got to the hospital, Mingo said he was given precise instructions. He also coughed up blood after he was admitted.
"They gave me a bed and a TV, and they said, 'Watch this and don't move, and you'll be OK,'" he said. "All I have to do now is just rest up and let it heal."
The former LSU standout likely will be kept out of practice for the next week, and it's possible he will sit out Cleveland's final two preseason games at Indianapolis (Aug. 24) and Chicago (Aug. 29).
Horton isn't too worried about Mingo missing time.
"For a young guy, he needs every rep he can get," Horton said. "He is very smart. He is on page. For us, it's just reps. It's seeing a different look. It's seeing (Colts QB) Andrew Luck. It's seeing different fronts, what they have and how they want to block him. It will retard a little bit, but he is pretty gifted in what he does and he picks things up fast. How much? I can't give you a quantitative answer, but it will hurt him a little bit."
Mingo played only on the kickoff-coverage and punt-return teams against the Lions.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Mingo has been primarily playing special teams and with Cleveland's second-string defense. However, Horton has been working the speedy Mingo into some of the Browns' pass-rushing packages in order to use his ability to pressure the quarterback from the edge.
Fortunately, the Browns have others who can fill in while Mingo recovers.
"We have a lot of players at a lot of positions who can play for us," Horton said. "Depth is a key for us. We have quality players at a lot of quality positions. A lot of people use the mantra, 'Next man up.' We believe in that philosophy that it doesn't matter who the starters are, it is give me 11 guys who want to go out and play and can play.
"He is one of our 11, so will it hurt our team? Yeah, it will hurt our team because of our depth, but we will get him back soon and we will plug him right back in."
Mingo was one of five Browns players to suffer a significant injury in the 24-6 win over the Lions.
Running back Dion Lewis broke his left leg and is scheduled for surgery. It's not known how long Lewis will be sidelined, and Chudzinski said the team will wait until after the operation before deciding whether to put him on injured reserve.
Lewis, acquired in a March trade from Philadelphia, has been a pleasant addition for the Browns, who were hoping to use him as a change-of-pace with starter Trent Richardson. Lewis' injury will further test Cleveland's depth in the backfield since Montario Hardesty is expected to miss at least one month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday.
Starting right guard Jason Pinkston (high ankle sprain) left FirstEnergy Stadium in a walking boot and on crutches. Chudzinski said rookie Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round pick, likely will move into the starting spot.
Tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained shoulder) and rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin) were also hurt in the preseason game but are not expected to be out long.