Florham Park, NJ – It certainly isn’t comforting to find your top draft pick riding the bench after two games, especially a pick in the top 10. But Dee Milliner doesn’t seem like a bust.
While Milliner struggled on Thursday, the game came on a short week against a top quarterback and coach. It’s not shocking that a rookie would struggle.
Let’s remember that Milliner missed a lot of time in the offseason between a contract holdout and injuries. This is the same guy that dominated SEC competition for a stout Alabama defense and, physically, he still looks the part.
“He certainly has the talent,” said Rex Ryan. “There’s no doubt.”
But even Milliner will admit he needs to learn the scheme better.
“Just like I said, the mental part,” said Milliner. “Just knowing the situation and where I’m supposed to be.”
Cornerback is one of the toughest transitions from college to the NFL. Now add to that the task of learning Ryan’s defense, which heavily relies on the play of its defensive backs. But Milliner is taking the demotion in stride. If anything he’s been motivated to work harder.
“[Milliner is] taking it as a pro,” said Antonio Cromartie. “He’s come out and made sure he is working hard. He’s paying a lot more attention to detail. He’s coming into to it”
At this point what Milliner needs most is reps, in both practice and games. While Milliner likely won’t start, he should still see plenty of action on Sunday.
“It’s not like Dee’s sitting there riding the pine forever,” said Ryan. “That’s not the case. Dee’s going to be (an) active part. Is he a starter? He’ll be starting in some capacity, I’m sure.”
“If I just get out there and get in a rhythm and do more reps I’ll be fine,” added Milliner.
It also doesn’t hurt having Ryan as the head coach. On top of having a reputation as a good play-caller, Ryan is known as one of the better teachers in the league.
From the start Milliner has had big shoes to fill. He certainly hasn’t come close to the expectations, but it’s too early to be worried.
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