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.
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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.