LONDON – For most of the players on the Cowboys roster, the sights and sounds of London are completely foreign.
For Jeremy Mincey, it's really nothing new.
But the fact that Mincey has actually played here in England before seems to be the other carryover from his days with the Jaguars, which ended late last season.
The player and teammate Jacksonville cut last December is nothing like the guy the Cowboys acquired this season. The Jags had to part ways with Mincey, who had trouble being on time, even missing a game in Houston because he was late to the team's charter.
But after being cut, he joined the Broncos, a team that advanced to the Super Bowl. Even though it was a short time with Denver, Mincey said he learned a lot about being accountable, and did some growing up on the run.
So although he played nearly four years with Jacksonville, and just a few weeks with the Broncos, Mincey said he's trying to pull from both experiences as he continues his first season with the Cowboys.
"What they had was maturity. That comes with time," Mincey said of the Broncos. "We've got a lot of young guys here. We've got to get them growing up early. That's why I push so hard because they have to understand we have a great opportunity. The cards are laid out for us. We just have to play them the right way."
Mincey knows he didn't always play them the right way as a member of the Jaguars, who he will face for the first time this Sunday at Wembley Stadium. In fact, Mincey knows a thing or two about the stadium, having played here just last year against the 49ers.
But when a few accountability issues became too much for the Jaguars to handle, they parted ways with the veteran defensive end, who admits he doesn't hold a grudge, but wished for a better outcome.
"I don't think they looked at my positives," Mincey said. "I was going through a lot. It was tough, man. There are a lot of things I can't talk about, but there were a lot of things that happened to me that I don't speak on, and I swallowed that pill, because I'm a man. I get knocked down, and I just get up and come back stronger, work harder. You just focus on what you've got to do. Right now, I'm trying to be the best Cowboy I can be, and we're doing a good job."
Head coach Jason Garrett said he's seen no signs of the things that ultimately ended his time with the Jags. But, he admitted the Cowboys were rather extensive in their homework when deciding to sign him this offseason.
"I think you always try to do your due diligence on players and understand what's been in their past, both good and bad, and maybe what the reasons might have been for some of those things and try to figure out if that player fits into what you want on your football team," Garrett said. "I think the biggest thing with 'Mince' is he comes to work. He comes to work every day. He's attentive in meetings. He practices hard and he plays hard. Again, from people who we think are credible sources who've been around him throughout his career, that's what they described to us. We went ahead and signed him and are happy we did."
Mincey is tied with Tyrone Crawford for the team lead with 19 quarterback pressures. He has just one sack, which he recorded late in the Redskins game two weeks ago.
"Comes to practice, practices hard, plays hard," Garrett said of Mincey this week in London. "I think he's affected the quarterback. He's got kind of a bull-rush style where he pushes the pocket and impacts the quarterback in the pocket, making him a little bit more uncomfortable than maybe he'd like to be. He has been active in the running game. Has he played perfectly? No. But he's part of a rotation that we like and he's playing the right way."
Mincey calls himself a leader on this defense, something that isn't easy considering the established veterans already in the Cowboys' locker room. But when asked how he approached the situation, Mincey said it was pretty easy to make the transition.
"I just came in and I was myself," Mincey said. "I was blunt. I was straight-forward. I was honest and I was real with every guy around me. I think that rubs off on guys and they respect you for who you are. Regardless of the time, I could've been a second-year player, but you are who you are in this world. I'm glad they accept me and respect me for that."
With or without a lot of experience wearing the blue star, Mincey said his age alone should warrant a little respect. By a few months, the 30-year-old Mincey is older than Spencer, making them the oldest defensive players on the team – aside from newly-signed linebacker Tom Dobbins, who is 31.
"Yeah, I'm the oldest guy on this defense right now. I would definitely consider myself a leader," Mincey says. "Not just with age. Guys look up to me and they respect me. They've watched what I've been through in this league. I've been cut four or five times. Get a starting job and break my hand. Over and over. It's just a lot of different things. They watched me defeat all the odds and keep fighting. Here I am, Year 9 of my career, still here and starting for the Dallas Cowboys. I think it's a pretty special thing."