Healthy, Happy Dee Milliner Reports to Jets Camp
July 29, 2013 09:01 PM | Charlie Frankel
Jets fans can exhale at last. After a "long, drowsy day," the ninth overall pick of the 2013 draft has arrived at SUNY Cortland and his surgically repaired shoulder is "100 percent back."
Dee Milliner says he's just "happy to be here."
"It's feeling great being back a part of the team," the first-round cornerback said, "seeing my teammates again, and just to get back starting football since I've been away from it for a while."
Now that he's here, the next question is when he will be able to throw on the pads and show off his athleticism on the field. He took his physical today, but he still needs to pass the conditioning test.
Passing that test shouldn't be an issue, as Dee has been training at his alma mater, the University of Alabama, while leaving contract negotiations to his agent. He says he's in football shape.
"I've just been at school running, training, doing the same things that they do here," he said. "I'm very much in shape, like I've been playing football the whole time. If my trainers want me to go full throttle as soon as I get back, I'm ready for that."
Mentally, Dee believes he won't have much catching up to do.
"I've been seeing the plays, been a part of them at practice, watching, learning," he said. "I just haven't been on the field, but it's football so you get back out there, get back in the roll of things. I know I'll be fine, it's just getting back to it and actually going out there and playing."
It helps, he says, that many of the football concepts here with the Jets overlap those that he learned in Nick Saban's Crimson Tide defense.
As for his position on the depth chart, Milliner understands that some things are simply out of his hands.
"You go out there, control what you do," he said, "and that's just going out there and playing your best, doing your best and you leave it up to the coaches. They make the ultimate decision whether or not you get your playing time."
Milliner says he will spend extra time in the classroom studying film in order to best prepare for the physical demands of covering NFL wide receivers.
"You've got guys now, wide receivers, that are going to pay attention to what you do on defense," he said, "You have guys that are going to study anything that you do good and try to break it down. So you've go to do more studying of them and also try to break them down more."
The business side of football has been resolved. Now, let the games begin.
"I'm just ready to get to work," Milliner said, "and earn my paycheck."
Jets CB Dee Milliner 'Has to Earn It'
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After missing four training camp practices, Dee Milliner is set to join his teammates and he is expected to participate in team action this week for the Jets. But while the Jets are pleased that Milliner put pen to paper on a contract, he won’t necessarily be with the first unit when the Green & White return to the practice field.
“He’s got to earn it. Like everybody else,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman told a throng of reporters following Monday’s practice. “He knows that — we know it. We don’t just give anybody anything in this league. You have to earn it. We do expect him to be involved and highly competitive to be a starter. That’s our anticipation, so we’ll see.”
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson have manned the outside early in camp. Wilson, who took over for an injured Darrelle Revis in Week 3 last season, started a career-high 15 games in 2012 as he saw extensive action on the outside for the first time in his career.
While Cromartie is the unquestioned No. 1 corner on the roster, both Wilson and Milliner can play inside and outside. The Jets cornerback depth took a hit when Aaron Berry went down with an ACL injury, but Milliner will be a talented on-the-field addition who has a bright mind for the game.
“As far as the mental part of it, he is very sharp,” DT said. “I mean a lot of the things that we do, they were doing at Alabama. A lot of the terms, our terminology and their terminology matched. So it wasn’t a difficult transition for him. We feel like if he’s done any studying at all that he should come in and be fairly close to where he needs to be.”
Milliner, who was selected No. 9 overall by New York’s AFC representative, had offseason shoulder surgery and was a spectator for OTAs and minicamp.
“The biggest transition for him is going to be the quickness of the game, the speed of the game,” Thurman said. “How quickly he can get himself acclimated to that will be his biggest challenge.”
A short holdout ended late Sunday evening. If Milliner passes his physical and conditioning test today, he’ll finally be in action when the Green & White resume practice Wednesday.
“He was probably the most complete corner that came out of this year’s draft,” Thurman said. “I mean, he doesn’t just play the pass, he also plays the run. He knows how to play man, he knows how to play zone. He understands what it takes to play on the corner’s mentality. So we expect him to come in and continue to do what he’s doing.’