With the return of Dee Milliner back into the defense of the NY Jets, he’s in a much better situation than his rookie year thanks to all the leadership across the team.
It hasn’t been an easy road for cornerback Dee Milliner. After being drafted 9th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, the expectations were very high for the star out of Alabama. Weeks before the draft, the Jets traded away pro bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and drafted Milliner to take the spot previously held by Revis Island.
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In his rookie season, Milliner was definitely thrown right into the fire. After struggling badly early on, then head coach Rex Ryan benched Milliner during the season due to his poor play.
In the last few weeks of the season, Milliner showed why he was such a highly coveted player in the draft as he was able to shutdown star wide receivers Josh Gordon and Mike Wallace. Milliner was also able to record two interceptions, the first two of his career, against Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins. It was the perfect way for Milliner to end his rookie season, and be optimistic heading into his second season.
Unfortunately for Milliner, his second season was cut short after he tore his achilles tendon attempting to block a field goal attempt against the Denver Broncos. Milliner would go on to miss 13 games in 2014. An injury that not only hurt the Jets already depleted secondary, but an injury that hurt Milliner’s development as a cornerback in the NFL.
After the Jets added three cornerbacks this off-season in Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine, the pressure was seemingly off Milliner when it came to being the No. 1 cornerback. Recovered from his achilles injury, Milliner was very impressive in training camp, and made sure to always stay right by Revis and Cromartie, picking the two veteran’s brains any chance he could get.
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (27) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, the injury bug struck again. During a training camp practice, Milliner dislocated his wrist after jamming a wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. Shortly after, the Jets placed the young cornerback on short term injured reserve, meaning he will be eligible to return to the field Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders.
While the Jets’ defense has had a terrific start to the season, with the team ranking 8th against the run, 2nd against the pass, 1st in scoring and 2nd overall, the defense is only going to get better once Milliner returns to the field. With Revis, Cromartie and Skrine already in place as the first three cornerbacks, the pressure is off Milliner to come in and make an immediate impact.
I would expect Milliner to play the reserve cornerback role this season, the same role that Marcus Williams is playing now for the Green and White. Milliner would see time in certain packages and be able to fill in for Revis or Cromartie if need be.
Luckily for the Jets, cornerback is certainly not a position of need. Even though Milliner may not have a prominent role on the Jets’ defense this season, I would expect him to play a big role on the defense in the near future.