Cowboys' Mincey faces old foe in Jags in London
IRVING, Texas (AP) Jeremy Mincey played for Jacksonville in London last year. Now he is about to face the Jaguars with the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Weird? The defensive lineman whose off-and-on career is in its seventh season might say so.
''It's strange how it all worked out,'' he says with his ever-present smile.
Mincey wasn't smiling as much when he made the trip to Europe just over a year ago. He had lost the starting spot he held for two years after the second head coaching change in as many seasons.
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley had to fine and suspend Mincey for being late to meetings, and eventually decided to release him. Mincey took responsibility for the trouble, saying he had stretched himself too thin with business interests outside the sport.
When he looks back now, he wonders if his heart was in it after one of his buddies, Tyson Alualu, beat him out for a starting spot at defensive end.
''I had a really, really good camp. And I still ended up a backup,'' said Mincey, who had signed the richest contract of his career at four years and $20 million just a year earlier. ''That hurts your heart when you've been a captain and you've been playing for this team and people look up to you but you're behind a man who looks up to you. It was kind of awkward for me.''
Mincey did not play the year San Francisco drafted him in the sixth round in 2006 and was out of football for the 2009 season. But he got to play in the Super Bowl with Denver last season when the Broncos picked him up following his release.
Mincey said they wanted to re-sign him, but he saw Dallas franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware join Denver. And he was hearing a lot of good things about Rod Marinelli, who had just been promoted to defensive coordinator by the Cowboys.
Now he goes by ''Oil Can'' - Marinelli's nickname for him because he's the oldest guy on the defensive line, about a month older than longtime Dallas defensive end Anthony Spencer. And he's tied with Tyrone Crawford for the team lead in quarterback pressures with 19 after signing a two-year, $3 million deal with $1.7 million guaranteed.
The Cowboys loaded up on low-cost defensive linemen in free agency - also adding Terrell McClain and Henry Melton - and didn't have any concern about how things ended for Mincey in Jacksonville.
''We were pursuing him for a couple years,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''Anything about that is really contrary to the player that we have. This guy is all in and he practices as hard and as well as anybody that we have on our team.''
Mincey played sparingly in Jacksonville's 42-10 loss to San Francisco in London last season. Now he is solidly entrenched in Marinelli's rotation along the defensive line, playing inside and out.
''His fourth quarter is really good,'' Marinelli said. ''I don't know where he gets it. That `Can' - he just, shoom! I keep kidding him all the time. Everybody's faster than him at the beginning of the game. He doesn't change speeds. Everybody slows down and he stays the same.''
Mincey sees himself as a locker room leader, particularly to younger players such as rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick taken high enough for the Cowboys to expect him to one day take Mincey's spot at right end.
Alualu can picture the chatty Mincey as a mentor to Lawrence, the way he was with Jacksonville's 10th overall pick in 2010. His old teammate can even see the younger player rolling his eyes.
''When you talk to Mince, you're going to get stuck,'' Alualu said. ''So if you talk back, it's just going to keep on going. I just took everything that Mince said, take what I can use and (discard) whatever else didn't make sense.''
Mincey will be happy to see Alualu on Sunday, but maybe not quite as chatty. He's trying to help the Cowboys (6-3) bounce back from consecutive losses that wiped out the momentum of six-game winning streak.
The Jaguars (1-8) are on their way to double-digit losses for the fourth year in a row.
''I don't hold any grudges,'' Mincey said. ''Just one of those things, shake hands and move on. It would be nice to have a big game against my former team.''
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