CLEVELAND - A college friendship gave the Browns the upper hand in their pursuit of an intriguing prospect.
LSU linebacker Barkevious Mingo, selected with the sixth overall pick in the draft, has been a friend of offensive lineman Chris Faulk since junior high school. When the undrafted Faulk was pursued by about 20 teams, his first choice was Cleveland for an obvious reason.
"We just connected well," Faulk said of his friendship with Mingo. "The Cleveland Browns called me and asked me if I wanted to be part of the organization. I said 'absolutely.' One of my best friends is here, and it was the best fit for me."
Faulk could be a find. Highly-recruited out of Slidell, La., he developed into a starter for the Tigers. During a practice early last season his leg was rolled on by a teammate. At first it was thought he had only torn a MCL, but it was later discovered that the ACL was also torn.
Faulk missed the rest of the season. He's expected to be ready to practice when training camp begins in late July.
The Browns are set at the tackle spots with Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz. Although Faulk played tackle at LSU, he has the body type to move to guard.
"I'm willing to go anywhere," Faulk said. "For offensive line, you do the same thing. You block and protect your quarterback and open the holes for the running back. It doesn't matter where you're at. As long as you're getting your job done, the line will be all right and the team will be good."
GETTING NOTICED: Tryout running back Robbie Rouse made enough of an impression on the first day of rookie camp to be offered a contract. The unique thing about Rouse is that he stands 5-6, making him one of the shortest Browns ever.
"It was a great feeling," he said of signing a contract. "I feel like the hard work paid off. It was my dream growing up as a child to be a professional player and now it's here. I'm grateful and thankful for this."
Rouse is solidly put together at 190 pounds. He's Fresno State's career rushing leader with 4,647 yards in just 26 starting assignments. He had 37 rushing touchdowns, 110 receptions and 794 receiving yards.
FITTING IN: Third-round draft choice Leon McFadden carries a sense of confidence. The cornerback from San Diego State describes himself as aggressive in a controlled way.
McFadden is getting accustomed to the types of practices he expects when the full squad arrives.
"They're way more up-tempo (than college)," he said. "It's something to get used to. The playbook is way more in-depth. I never played the nickel position, and I'm getting introduced to that."
STEPPING UP: Cornerback Akeem Auguste of South Carolina made a nice play to intercept a pass intended for receiver Keenan Davis in one-on-one drills. Auguste is one of 20 players trying out for an invitation to training camp.
ON THE FIELD: The Browns will begin offseason training activity (OTA) practices Tuesday. Teams are allowed 10 OTAs over a three-week period. The OTAs lead to minicamps in early June.