Florida alum Mincey adjusts to new role for Jaguars
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:08 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE — Days after opening his own recording studio downtown, Jeremy Mincey walked onto EverBank Field on Sunday searching for a new rhythm in the Jaguars' season opener against Kansas City.
As he lingered always within earshot of his coaches, Mincey bounced on the sidelines and waited to be tabbed for an unfamiliar introduction into his seventh NFL season.
With a 40-game start streak coming to an abrupt end in the Jaguars' 28-2 loss, the 29-year-old defensive lineman known for his constant motor on the field tried to keep his tempo in 31 sporadic snaps.
“It's a little frustrating, because all players want to catch their rhythm, especially when you've been playing in 70 to 80 snaps (per game) in the last three years,” Mincey said. “It's a little odd, because I'm a rhythm player. … I just have to snap into my zone a lot earlier.”
After registering just three sacks a year ago, the lowest of his career since 2008, Mincey knew his role would change entering this season when Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Bradich were hired in January.
Jacksonville underwent a genre-shifting overhaul, beginning with a new scheme that called for the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Mincey to play far fewer than the nearly 84 percent of defensive snaps he saw last year.
“Inside, you feel a little disappointed, but I mean it's a completely different defensive scheme,” he said. “And I can accept my role as a player.”
Mincey, a former junior college player who transferred to Florida in 2004, is no stranger to challenging coaching transitions.
Following his first season with the Gators, Mincey watched as former UF coach Ron Zook was fired before Urban Meyer was introduced at Florida. Though Meyer ushered in a new defensive mindset, Mincey flourished as a senior captain and led all SEC defensive linemen with 61 tackles.
He was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and spent time on the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad before Jacksonville signed him later that year.
While he was saddled by injuries early in his career, Mincey enjoyed a breakout 2011 season with a team-high eight sacks.
“It's a sign of me being able to adapt and overcome,” Mincey said. “This is completely different from what I'm used to as a football player, but I accept it and I embrace it.”
After he signed a four-year, $20 million contract in 2012 orchestrated by former general manager Gene Smith, Mincey saw his production fall on a team that parted ways with two veteran defensive linemen in the offseason.
Under new general manager, David Caldwell, the Jaguars released 12-game starter C.J. Mosley, 30, and chose not to re-sign free agent Terrance Knighton, 27.
“Every year is important and I'm not going to take it for granted, and I'm not going to settle for less either,” Mincey said. “I'm still fighting to be the best player I can be and capitalize on the moments I do have.”
Though he lost his starting label, Mincey has not shied away from his leadership role as the Jaguars' longest tenured defensive lineman.
Twenty-three players on Jacksonville's 53-man roster have two years of NFL experience or less, including three defensive linemen. Abry Jones, an undrafted rookie from Georgia, said he leaned on Mincey's tutelage while trying to survive the Jaguars' final cuts.
“I know sometimes the older guys see young guys still as a guy that's trying to take their job,” Jones said. “But for him, just giving advice and not setting up that wall and having that mindset is a really positive thing for me.”
Mincey said he finds a common bond with his teammates off the field through music.
In the past, Mincey has helped local recording artists like his best friend J. Dash, whom he shared the same dormitory with at UF, produce albums and mixtapes. Last month, J. Dash's dance-craze single “WOP” went platinum.
Mincey, or Mr. Mince as he's known on the mike, hit his own musical milestone on Sept. 4 when he held the grand opening for his own studio and art gallery on 121 East Bay Street. In the buildup to this season, Mincey said he's often invited his teammates to blow off steam in the booth.
“It's got a real good feel,” Mincey said. “I'm mostly an overseer, but I go in there and do what I need to do. Sometimes the D-line gets together and play around. We just lost though, so I think right now it's time to be a lot more serious.”
Once Mincey finally joined his fellow pass rushers on the field in Sunday's first quarter, he tried to show he can still make an impact for a team trying to improve from its NFL low 20 sacks last season.
Mincey made one of the Jaguars' two tackles for loss against the Chiefs when he hit running back Cyrus Gray a yard behind the line of scrimmage just before the two-minute warning in the second quarter.
“He's probably known as our rusher when it comes to third down, and he's going to be the guy that comes in and tries to get after the quarterback,” defensive end Tyson Alualu said. “Even though he didn't start the game, we still see him as a starter.”