When Kevin Minter was released by the Jets just before the start of the regular season, it was the first time he had been out of football since he began playing the game.
Six weeks passed until an injury to his former LSU teammate, Kwon Alexander, presented an opening with the Bucs.
“Just being out for as long, it kind of puts things in perspective,” Minter said Thursday. “You know, it can be taken away. It’s really a privilege to be in this league. I’m blessed to be here, and I’m going to take advantage as much as possible. I’m here to help, whether it be when I am playing linebacker or just special teams.”
Minter, 27, wasn’t completely lost when he arrived in Tampa. When he was drafted in Arizona in the second round in 2013, Bucs general manager Jason Licht was in the Cardinals front office.
“He was cool, man. We knew each other pretty well,” Minter said of Licht. “Every time he was in the building, he’d always stop and talk. He’s the most personable GM I’ve ever been around. From start to finish, from my rookie year until now, we pass in the hallway he might stop for 10-15 minutes talking. I’ve got to hurry and get to a meeting or something. But he’s a cool guy, and I’ve always liked him. When I came to work out Tuesday, he seemed real happy for me to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.”
Minter is working at middle linebacker behind starter Adarius Taylor but is capable of playing strong side linebacker as well. He has dropped weight from his playing days at Cincinnati last season, when he weighed close to 250 pounds. He says he’s now 237.
Who knows what role Minter will play in the future. But as for Alexander, he says don’t underestimate his comeback from a torn ACL.
“I used to mess with him a little bit,” Minter said. “It’s crazy to see what he’s grown into. He’s definitely a top five linebacker in the league. I’m proud of him. Hopefully he can come back from this strong. Ya’ll know Kwon. There’s nothing going to stop him. He’ll rip it off first.”