ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The definition of short notice for the newest addition to the Denver Broncos roster is three pairs of pants.
“And that’s all I’ve got right now, that's all I came to Denver with,’’ said defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who has landed on his feet over the past four days just about as well as any player who has passed through the waiver wire this season.
Mincey, after being late for team meetings multiple times this season, was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) Friday and signed by the Broncos on Tuesday. So, he went from a team that opened the season 0-8 to finding himself in a locker room filled with Super Bowl aspirations. Mincey said his other suitors this week were the Dallas Cowboys (7-7) and the New Orleans Saints (10-4).
“[The Broncos] picked me up … so I wasn’t just out in the water drowning,’’ Mincey said. “I had people throwing rope and Denver threw the best rope.’’
Mincey played for Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in five seasons during Del Rio’s tenure as Jaguars head coach. Del Rio was a resource for the Broncos as the team tried to decide whether or not to sign Mincey after the bumpy ride the sixth-year veteran had in Jacksonville this season.
In addition to the tardiness that got him released, Mincey had also been left off a road trip – to Houston – last month when he was late for a previous team meeting. Mincey had also been a game day inactive against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 1. The Broncos talked to Jaguars general manager David Caldwell before coming to terms with Mincey.
“He’s a guy we thought could help our football team,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said. “We’ve got people that know him, know about his production. … The guy’s got a clean slate coming in here.’’
“Things happen, but I’m here with the Denver Broncos now. I’m all in with the Denver Broncos now,’’ Mincey said. “I get to play with Hall of Famers Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning … it’s an honor and a pleasure to be with the Denver Broncos.’’
Asked what happened as he went from a player who signed a $20 million contract with the Jaguars in March of 2012 to the waiver wire last week with questions about his work ethic in tow, Mincey cited a lack of postseason opportunities in his time with the Jaguars -- they made the playoffs in one season in his time there. He also called himself a “self-motivated’’ player.
“Inspiration, when you’re inspired about something, it’s hard to let yourself down,’’ Mincey said. “ … I was lacking a lot of inspiration there, I was on a treadmill there. I’m glad the off switch came and I fell off on to a better treadmill.’’
Mincey, who also missed three games earlier this season with a concussion, arrives at a time when the Broncos are searching for answers on defense. With some injuries, to go with linebacker Von Miller’s six-game suspension to open the season, the Broncos have been out of sorts for much of the year on that side of the ball. The Broncos will not play the 11 starters they expected to have on defense during this season and they have tried a variety of combinations in a variety of situations, even dialing back the playing time of a team captain in linebacker Wesley Woodyard to try to get things right.
Yet they are 24th in the league in points allowed this season (26.6 per game), 23rd in yards allowed (371.5 per game) and 28th in pass defense (266.2 yards allowed per game). And while their run defense had been one thing they had hung their hat amid all of the other troubles, the San Diego Chargers then rushed for 177 yards last Thursday night, repeatedly getting the edge against the Broncos defense.
Mincey, given his history with Del Rio, is expected to enter the rotation quickly. He said he could “most definitely’’ play against the Texans Sunday if the Broncos wanted him to. He’s played in just eight games this season, totaling 16 tackles and two sacks.
Both are by far his lowest output since he became a starter in Jacksonville in 2010. He had five sacks in 2010 to go with eight, and 57 tackles overall, in 2011.
“Football is football and I’m not the dumbest guy in the room,’’ Mincey said. “I got a clean slate. … I’m ready to be a Denver Bronco, the past is past.’’