Last season, when the Dallas Cowboys were going 12-4 on the power of a dominant rushing attack, a capitalizing passing game and a defense kept fresh and not exposed, Jeremy Mincey was one of the team's best defensive players.
The versatile defensive lineman led the Cowboys with six sacks a year ago in the first year of a two-year deal and served as a veteran presence in grooming some of their young defensive linemen, such as DeMarcus Lawrence who is having a great season this year, his second in the NFL.
But this year hasn't been nearly as kind to Mincey, or to the Cowboys, for that matter.
Mincey, who is 32 years old and playing in the final year of his contract, has yet to record a sack and was a healthy scratch last week at Buffalo, being declared inactive for the first time as a Cowboy.
"The biggest thing with Mincey was just the position," coach Jason Garrett told ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor. "We've really been stretched at the nose tackle position, and we've been using a lot of different guys to spell Nick Hayden.
"Mince played a lot of snaps at nose last week [in practice], and that's not really his natural position. We do anticipate Mincey being up this week."
Mincey told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn't ever anticipate not playing — not a surprise from a professional athlete and competitor — but said he'd support whatever the coaches decide on Sunday against the Redskins in terms of what is best for the team and its chances to pull out a win in the season finale.