Jeremy Mincey's not buying into the hype.
That's true even if the hype is about something that's often un-hyped, and even if it's teammates and coaches he respects doing the hyping.
That's because what gets hyped more than anything else about the veteran defensive end – a player Jaguars coaches and players say is crucial to an improving, increasingly deep defensive line – is his effort. And while Mincey said there's no question he gives a lot of it, he said this much is true, too:
There's still more he can give.
"I think I have to play a little harder," Mincey said this week as the Jaguars (1-4) prepared to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Everybody always says, 'Oh, you play so hard,' but I still feel like there's a lot I've left out there, and a lot of plays that could have been made. I just have to focus on getting better each week."
Mincey, a fourth-year veteran, in a little more than two seasons with the Jaguars has developed into not only a starter, but a sometimes-overlooked reason for the Jaguars' defensive improvement this season.
"He's one of those guys who's always around the ball," Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu said. "It's his love for the game – you can see by the way he plays. He plays every down. He's always near the ball. He's always near the quarterback when he's throwing the ball.
"Just having him there, and playing like that, allows us to feed off that energy of what he brings to the game."
On Sunday, Mincey had what Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said was "his best game probably this year," recording four quarterback pressures and his first sack of the season.
"He's playing the run and the pass," Del Rio said. "He's been draped on the quarterback a lot this year. He played the run very well, did a nice job setting a vertical edge for us and making some tackles, making some plays. He played well."
Del Rio said that has been true much of the season of the entire defensive front, which is one reason the defense has improved from a 28th ranking in the NFL last season to eighth this season.
"The front is playing well," Del Rio said. "I told you we have a Top 10 unit. We're going to be good on defense, it'll be there when the year's over. It's a good defensive team."
The front this season has been about more than Mincey. A key for a defensive line in today's NFL is not just to generate pressure with one player, but to have a rotation, something that's progressively more the case with the Jaguars and could become more so if veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman returns this week.
Defensive end Matt Roth has two sacks and five pressures. Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu has five pressures, with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton registering eight pressures.
"I do like the depth of the group," Del Rio said. "I think we've got a pretty solid group. (Aaron) Kampman was close last week. We think we'll get him back this week and that should help."
Said Alualu, "We don't care who's in, the next guy coming in, there's going to be no drop-off."
But whatever the depth of the front, the player who consistently has provided the most pressure with Kampman out has been Mincey, who this season has continued the development he showed last season, when he registered a career-high five sacks while starting eight games.
While Mincey's sack on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton last week was his first of the season, he has consistently been near the quarterback, registering a team-high 18 quarterback pressures.
"Hopefully, they'll start coming," Mincey said. "I try to focus on getting better each game. I've got a long way to go, so you can expect a lot more out of me in the future. I plan on having a big year and I'm just taking it one game at a time."
Mincey, who said he needs to continue to work on play recognition, said while he can continue to work harder, he is confident things are starting to come together for him as NFL player. And more than that, he said, ignoring the hype and continuing to improve is something he remains motivated to do.
"There's more to come," he said. "I'm 27, young and I still have a lot of football to learn. I have a long way to go and I'm going to keep working until I get to where I need to be."