Jaguars' Mincey dealing with death, roster moves
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio gave his team the night off Tuesday, a rare treat during two weeks of training camp.
Players scattered minutes after an afternoon practice, some heading back to the hotel for a nap and others driving home to spend time with family.
Jeremy Mincey stuck around.
He sat alone in a defensive meeting room and watched countless replays on a large video screen. It was extra work that capped a difficult week for one of the team's more notable defensive players.
Mincey, the only University of Florida player remaining on Jacksonville's roster that was once sprinkled with Gators, is dealing with the death of a childhood friend and thoughts that his starting job might be in jeopardy.
''All I can do is handle the things I can control,'' Mincey said Tuesday. ''I have to accept the things that I can't change.''
Mincey is still coming to grips with the loss of his close friend, Dale Byrd. Byrd died Aug. 5 in Statesboro, Ga., after being shot in the head by his girlfriend, Gwen Coney. Byrd's family believes it was murder; Coney's family insists it was self-defense.
All Mincey knows it that it's a major loss.
''He was a good dude,'' Mincey said.
Mincey was excused from Saturday's morning walkthrough to attend Byrd's funeral. When he returned to practice later that day, the Jaguars had signed veteran defensive end Matt Roth to a one-year, $3 million contract.
Considering Roth's arrival, Aaron Kampman's return from a knee injury, Austen Lane's huge strides in his second season and defensive tackle Leger Douzable's repetitions at end, Mincey had concerns he was being relegated to a backup role.
''I know what I'm capable of,'' Mincey said. ''I've got to let them do what they do. I've got to continue to play hard and see what happens. It can be frustrating, if you let it. I just take it as motivation. I've got to keep it moving and worry about things I can control.''
Mincey did go from the getting time with the starters to working with the second team, but defensive line coach Joe Cullen said it happened only so Roth (left end) and Lane (right end) could get time at new positions.
''It will all shake out, and when it does, I'm sure Mince will be right in the mix, no question,'' Cullen said. ''It was by no way a demotion.''
Mincey has played just 24 games since signing with Jacksonville in December 2006. He has 87 tackles, seven sacks and more injuries than he cares to remember. He was hampered by a broken left wrist in 2007 and 2008, and a broken right hand in 2009.
Just when it looked like he would get a chance in 2010 - just hours after the Jaguars benched former first-round draft pick Derrick Harvey and named Mincey the starter - he broke his right hand in practice. It was his fourth hand/wrist injury in four years. Despite the setback, Mincey started the final eight games and finished with a team-high five sacks.
The coaches love Mincey's attitude and work ethic. And when the team released Harvey last month after three disappointing seasons, Mincey figured it was his time to shine. Instead, he might have to share the spotlight with Roth, Lane and others.
''From where we were a year ago this time, it's not even close,'' Cullen said, calling the defensive changes a much-needed makeover.
Mincey is a big part of the transformation.
''My standards are high and I feel like I've been playing really well,'' Mincey said. ''I'm starting to come into my own and play the way that I know. I've been doing well, been studying myself. I've been watching film two or three times a day on my own and trying to find out what I can do better. I'm really getting there.''