BEREA — Second-round pick David Veikune had 18 sacks in three years as a defensive end at Hawaii and was the lone pass rusher drafted by the Browns. But he lined up as an inside linebacker the first two days of rookie minicamp.
“I’m happy with the way he’s moved from defensive end to inside linebacker,” coach Eric Mangini said Saturday. “I’d like to have the flexibility with him to go in or out.”
Veikune is 6-foot-2, 254 pounds. He spent his college career on the line and seemed to be a fit at outside linebacker in Cleveland’s 3-4 scheme. The trial at inside linebacker is an even greater test of his athleticism.
“It’s been positive, his change of direction, his ability to communicate the defense, his understanding the concepts,” Mangini said.
Veikune cost Mangini some money Saturday morning when the coach asked him to diagram a full blitz during a defensive meeting.
“The defensive staff had the option to bet on him and I was the house,” Mangini said. “He nailed it. I’m always happy to pay those.”
Veikune moved around as a kid, including a stop in Alaska, and has ties to Northeast Ohio. His mom, Shelia Kerr, was born in Canton and still has family there.
“They’re so excited. They called me up (on draft) day,” Veikune said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s not only a blessing to play for the Browns, but also to reunite with my family.”
A stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is on his itinerary.
“I’ll definitely go,” Veikune said. “All the best are in there. I’d definitely like to look around there.”
Keep in touch
The rookies leave team headquarters today, but they’ll never be too far from the coaches’ reach. Mangini has installed a program that allows coaches to talk to and see the players through the computer. Mangini also uses it to talk to his wife and kids on the East Coast.
“We can actually quiz them on this program, it’s very interactive,” Mangini said. “I’m sure those guys are bummed out we can call them up and have videoconferences and go through the playbook, but I think it’s a very good way to have some face-to-face time and go through that information.”
Mangini will give the rookies a syllabus of what he expects them to accomplish before the rest of the minicamps and training camp.
The Cribbs project
Mangini said Joshua Cribbs’ role on the team has yet to be defined.
“Some of that is up to him,” Mangini said. “What he’s able to do, what role he’s able to carve out. Whether it’s exclusively on offense, exclusively on defense, whether it’s a little bit of both.
“The most important thing to me is he is able to carve out a role. He’s met with some of the offensive coaches, he’s met with some of the defensive coaches.”
Cribbs spent his first four years as a special teamer and receiver. He played quarterback in college.
“I actually owe him a quiz because he says he’s got one of the defenses down cold,” Mangini said. “We shall see.”
Words to live by
Mangini is really trying to get his point across. He had “trust,” “communication,” “finish” and “focus” painted on the grass of the practice fields.
“They are the core things that we value,” he said. “If you have those characteristics, you are doing the things that we put a high value on, you’ve got a great chance to make it here and you’ve got a great chance to contribute.”
Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie (No. 36 overall) and Georgia’s Mohamed Massaquoi (No. 50) are both receivers and second-round picks, but Mangini doesn’t expect a rivalry.
“What I really like is there seems to be a friendship building there, just from the outside looking in,” he said. “I can envision them pushing each other in a good way, supporting each other.
“They’ve been very impressive in terms of their work ethic, their concentration, their recall of information. It’s a great situation when you come in with a player in a similar position to build that relationship and grow together.”
The minicamp concludes today with a conditioning practice.
• Mangini said if the team didn’t offer the tryout players a contract today, they could at any point down the road.
• Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and Cribbs were the players scheduled to talk to the rookies Saturday night.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.