Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey rejoined teammates Wednesday, four days after he was left home and fined for being late to a meeting.
Mincey said he spread himself "too thin" between football, his 3-month-old daughter and his recording business.
"I was just negligent as a football player and as a role model on this team," Mincey said. "I just need to bounce back and do everything the right way."
Coach Gus Bradley didn't allow Mincey to travel to Houston last week after he was late to a Saturday meeting. Mincey said he overslept and hinted that it wasn't his first slip-up.
"I was wrong, point blank, and I deserved the fine and I'm willing to live with the consequences and repercussions," Mincey said. "There have been little nicks and knacks. Sometimes the last straw is the last straw. That was the last straw for coach Gus and for the team. I've just got to be better."
Bradley met with Mincey again Monday and welcomed him back at meetings and practice Wednesday.
"I've challenged Mince," Bradley said. "I don't know if regain the trust is the right word, but I think he's just got to come back and go to work. No talking. No anything else. Just work and regain the trust through that. That's the challenge for him right now.
"We're at the point where we don't want to hear any more. We want to see it."
Mincey, a sixth-year veteran from Statesboro, Ga., who attended nearby Florida, is in the second year of a four-year contract worth $20 million. The deal included $9 million guaranteed, but since his base salary jumps from $1.525 million to $4.475 million next year, he's no lock to be part of the team's future.
The versatile lineman missed three games last month because of a concussion and has just one sack, three quarterback pressures and 13 tackles in seven games for the Jaguars (2-9).
He expects to be active Sunday at Cleveland (4-7).
"I've been earning my keep the whole time I've been in Jacksonville, so why not fight now?" Mincey said. "I never give in and I never give up, so earning is what I've been doing my whole life. I earned my whole career. I've been cut three times. I've been on the practice squad. I've dug out of deeper holes. I'll dig myself out of this hole."
It might not be as easy as Mincey thinks. His absence opened the door for first-year defensive end Ryan Davis and 2012 second-round draft pick Andre Branch. Both enjoyed their best games in Sunday's 13-6 win against the Texans.
Davis sealed the victory with an interception in the final minute. Branch recorded a sack for the second straight week.
Mincey watched it all from his couch.
"It was good for me to sit at the house and see what I missing out on," he said. "I needed it. It's been a tough year for me — newborn baby, new businesses, a whole bunch of stuff. ... I was allowing myself to start slipping. It was time to refocus.
"I really got a lot of love and respect for coach Bradley and the way he does things, and he did it the right way. I appreciate him for giving me the time to refocus myself and dedicate myself to football so you can see the real player that's in me, and I can start going back to who I really am."
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