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Jeremy Mincey's absence opens up chances for other Cowboys DEs

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OXNARD, Calif. -- Jeremy Mincey's absence from training camp wasn’t something the Dallas Cowboys wanted, but it opens up opportunities.

Mincey is seeking an enhanced deal with him being set to make $1.5 million this year. He and the Cowboys have been in discussions since February, but the sides aren’t close to an agreement. Mincey finished 11 snaps shy last season of earning an extra $500,000 in 2015. He is the 70th-highest-paid defensive end in the NFL and has statistics that measure up with more highly paid players.

Some have asked about Mincey’s leverage. It might not look like he has much, but the Cowboys currently won’t have Greg Hardy for the first four games. While they like what they saw from Randy Gregory in the offseason, rookie pass-rushers often don’t put up big numbers.

Mincey led the Cowboys with six sacks last season and has been a solid leader, moved to the captain role after Justin Durant was lost for the season.

While Mincey faces a possible fine of $30,000 a day for each day of camp he misses, other players will have a chance to make a mark in camp that they might not have had otherwise.

The plan was for Gregory to get a lot of work as a pass-rush specialist, but he will get more snaps now. He has added some bulk to his frame, but this is his first camp and he has a lot to learn. Mincey’s strength at the point of attack is something to separates him from other candidates.

Jack Crawford was on his way to playing a big role on the defense last year before suffering a season-ending thumb injury. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a big fan of Crawford’s versatility.

Ben Gardner missed last season with a shoulder injury. He impressed the coaches with his work in the spring and is healthy. The Cowboys took him in the seventh round last year and hope he can play multiple spots along the line.

Ryan Russell was drafted in the fifth round this past May. He had some positive moments in the spring and can get off the ball, but he did not put up consistent numbers at Purdue. By moving up a peg when practices start, Russell will have a chance to impress the coaches on the practice field, which could lead to more action in the preseason games.