Browns were impressed with Manuel pre-draft

CLEVELAND – The Browns had enough interest in Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel to interview him prior to the draft.

They ultimately selected LSU linebacker Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick. Manuel was chosen 16th overall.

Although Browns coach Rob Chudzinski liked what he saw and heard from Manuel, there was never a chance he would have been the Browns’ selection. CEO Joe Banner said before the draft that one player was targeted with the sixth pick – Mingo.

“He was very impressive on his visit,” Chudzinski said of Manuel. “He’s a guy that has a bright future. We knew it then. Those are always tough decisions. We just felt like where we were at that picking Barkevious was our best choice at the time.”

Manuel is off to a decent start. He’s completed 56.9 percent of his passes for 856 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

Manuel thought there was a chance the Browns would have selected him. He doesn’t hold any grudges for their decision to go with Mingo.

“The draft is over and every team doesn’t always need a quarterback or every team doesn’t always need your position,” Manuel said. “I don’t think it was anything personal. It’s a business thing.”

  • NOT THIS WEEK: Defensive end Jabaal Sheard was held out of practice Tuesday. He’s on track in his rehabilitation from a knee injury, but he’ll probably miss a second straight game. The same applies to defensive lineman Billy Winn, who’s recovering from an ankle injury.
  • ANOTHER TRY: The wildcat formation was used occasionally when Joshua Cribbs was with the Browns. Chudzinski pulled the formation out of moth balls against the Bengals, lining up tight end MarQueis Gray at shotgun.

Gray is an interesting prospect. He played quarterback at the University of Minnesota. The 49ers signed him as an undrafted rookie, but he was among their final cuts. The Browns claimed Gray off waivers Sept. 1.

Gray was inactive the first two weeks but was activated the following week against the Vikings. The first time he lined up at shotgun against the Bengals, a timeout was called by Cincinnati. The next time he handed the ball to running back Bobby Rainey, who gained 3 yards.

  • FAST START: Mingo is the first rookie since Tommy Kelly of the Oakland Raiders in 2004 to register a sack in each of his first three games. Mingo leads all rookies in sacks with three. Ezekiel Anash of Detroit has 2.5 and Michael Buchanan of New England has two.
  • COINCIDENCE?: The three leading tight ends in receptions all have a basketball background Jordan Cameron of the Browns, Jimmy Graham of the Saints and Antonio Gates of San Diego. Cameron leads the trio with 30 catches. Graham is second with 27, followed by Gates with 25.
  • INJURY REPORT: Chudzinski isn’t certain how much he’ll be able to use kicker Billy Cundiff (thigh). Cundiff was limited to field goals and extra points last week. Guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and defensive lineman John Hughes (knee) will be game-time decisions.

Bills running backs C.J. Spiller (ankle) and Fred Jackson (knee) remain questionable.