Cortland, NY – With the Jets trading Darrelle Revis during the offseason everyone knew the Jets wouldn’t be as good at the top of their cornerback depth chart, but there was reason to believe they would be deeper than they were last year. With Dee Milliner’s continued absence and Aaron Berry’s season-ending ACL injury all of a sudden the Jets aren’t quite as deep as expected.
Milliner is one of just three rookies who have yet to sign contracts, Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack are the other two. The holdup is a bit puzzling since the new CBA was designed to eliminate this exact situation and there’s not much wiggle room in the contracts, as the salaries are slotted by draft position, but it appears the issue is a disagreement in the offset language and there’s no reason to think this holdout will continue all through camp.
“Well, you know, I am frustrated by it. I’m disappointed he’s not here, I’d like for Dee to be here there’s no question.” Rex Ryan said after being asked to compare it to the Darrelle Revis holdout, “But I think with Darrelle’s contract, he was under contract and I think that was a lot of my frustration. You know we had a player that was under contract and wasn’t there, you know. A player and an organization are going to do what’s in the best interest of each other or whatever, certainly the organization is and the player will also and that’s fine. If a guy was under contract, that’s where I would have the biggest frustration. You know here, this is business it’s not the first time that a player is not here because he hasn’t signed a contract.”
One would think the Jets and Milliner will eventually reach an agreement and assuming Milliner can step in and play at the level the Jets expect him to he can come in and win the starting role opposite of Cromartie allowing Kyle Wilson to stay as the nickel back and maybe even see some time at safety like he did today.
“Well again, he (Wilson) is competing for a starting job as a corner, could we use him at other areas? Absolutely. We put him as the starting nickel, he’s been the starting nickel for that last couple of years, but even some safety and some different roles that we can play him.” Ryan said, “The great thing about Kyle is he’s smart and you can put him anywhere and it kind of gives us some matchup things if we prefer to play another corner we can do that, if we want to play him as a safety we can do that also and obviously as a corner. Right now he’s competing for the starting corner job.”
But the injury to Berry opens up opportunities for other young players to step up and snag a contributing role on this defense.
Everyone knows Ryan loves his corners, he can never have enough of them, and with the injury to Berry Ryan will be looking for Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Donnie Fletcher to rise above the competition and solidify a significant role in the defense, along with Isaiah Trufant and rookie Mike Edwards.
“Well unfortunately losing Aaron (Berry) because that was a young man we really liked, we thought could be in that competition. But we have Kyle now as a starter, you know he’s being pushed by Ellis Lankster and Walls, okay. Trufant, Trufant’s really more of a nickel, as we know, Trufant’s a tough little hombre but he’s truly more your inside type corner but he’s outstanding in some of the things he does.” Ryan said, “And then we got some young guys competing as well. We finally got Mike Edwards on the field so we’ll start seeing what he can do. Donnie Fletcher, I like the fact that Donnie can do a lot of things, we train him similar roles like we do Kyle. Outside, nickel, corner, safety. Lot of different roles for him as well.”
If you choose to read too much into Milliner’s absence then it’s easy to understand why you might start getting nervous about the depth at corner, but assuming Milliner gets his contract handled soon (seriously, it’s a pretty safe assumption) the Jets still look to have plenty of depth at corner, even with the injury to Berry.
The key to this unit’s success will likely lie with Antonio Cromartie and Milliner as Ryan’s defense is built around having two physical press corners, but they’ll need contributions from all their corners, especially if Ryan expects to unleash more corner blitzes like he has talked about recently.
Cromartie has stepped up as a leader and now it’s up to him to show these young guys how it’s done and give Ryan the weapons he needs at corner.
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