IRVING, Texas – Given the amount of youth on the Cowboys' roster, it's easy to forget just how long Jeremy Mincey's journey through the NFL has lasted.
Case in point: Sunday's game against the New England Patriots serves as a fourth opportunity for Mincey to rematch against the team that drafted him all the way back in 2006.
"I look forward to it. You know, I was drafted by the Patriots, so I've still got a little connection with the guys," he said.
Mincey was the Patriots' sixth-round pick in that draft 10 years ago, which is an eternity by NFL standards. New England released him at the end of the preseason, and he went on to find success with both the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The time he spent in Foxboro, Mass., was enough for him to make important connections, though.
"Vince Wilfork hit me up last night and gave me a few tips and reminders for this game," Mincey said. "I definitely translated the message. I look forward to the challenge, I think it's going to be a really good game."
It says something, too, that Bill Belichick could vividly remember Mincey's time with the team. Belichick said he keeps tabs on all the Patriots' former players, and he remembers Mincey's struggles to adjust as a 3-4 outside linebacker with coverage responsibilities.
"He would probably be a better fit in our system now than he was when we drafted him. He's a defensive end, he plays down. He's not in coverage much," Belichick said. "He had to at that point, at the point that we had him, he had more coverage responsibility and in the end, we had other players that did those things better than he did."
It's worked out fairly well for Mincey, though. After his short stints with the Patriots and 49ers, he caught on in Jacksonville and parlayed that into moves to Denver and Dallas. He's tallied 135 career tackles and 26 total sacks in that span – including one of Brady.
"I love playing him. I've put him down a few times, hopefully I can put him down this week," he said. "That's the key for the defensive line – we've just got to put him down. We've got to get some hits on him early and get him frustrated."
If he can do that, it won't be a surprise for Belichick – who said he still sees the same player 10 years later.
"I wouldn't say that he's changed a lot. I'd say the systems that he's played in fit him better than the one we had, that's for sure," he said. "But he was a good football player, and I'd say the things he did well for us are the things he still does well."