Dee Milliner expects to play Week 1

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
5:07
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Injured Jets rookie cornerback Dee Milliner (calf) expects to play in the season opener on Sept. 8 against Tampa Bay. He will not play in Thursday's preseason finale against Philadelphia.

"I'm going to do what my trainers tell me to do," Milliner said after sitting out Tuesday's practice. "Try to progress on it and be aggressive in my rehab."

Milliner described his injury as calf tightness and said he hasn't been practicing because the team wants to prevent the injury from getting worse. He had been dealing with the tightness in his left calf, but it flared up last week and started bothering him more than usual. He missed all of last week's practices.

The No. 9 pick in this year's draft already has missed time this year due to a contract holdout, and he missed OTAs and minicamp due to a March 12 surgery he underwent to repair a torn labrum.

Milliner has already had five surgeries.

"I've been rehabbing every day, being aggressive with it, rehabbing, doing everything," Milliner said of his calf tightness. "It's been doing great."

Milliner is projected to be one of the team's starting cornerbacks, opposite Antonio Cromartie, but due to this injury, he will enter the regular season having played in just two preseason games. He also missed last Saturday's overtime win against the Giants.

In the last game he played against Jacksonville on Aug. 17, he drew some criticism from head coach Rex Ryan for being too soft in his coverage. The Jets like to employ a tight coverage scheme, and it was a staple of former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who Milliner will be replacing on the outside.

"I didn't like the way we competed and challenged on the outside -- not so much Cromartie, but from Dee," Ryan said on Aug. 17. "When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let's go. Let's play."

Milliner doesn't believe missing this time has set him back, but acknowledged that getting those extra reps would help. He said it's "very disappointing" to miss a pair of preseason games, as Milliner wants to be out there with his teammates and get into the flow of things.

"Very much looking to get back on the field," Milliner said. "Had a couple of bad hiccups, bad plays here and there. Looking forward to getting back on the field and redeeming myself."

The cornerback appreciated that Ryan called him out after the Jacksonville game. Cromartie, who is also injured and won't play Thursday, also gave the rookie a pep talk after Milliner allowed a pair of completions against the Jaguars.

"Like [Ryan] said, I do need to be more aggressive. That's part of him being a coach. I'm glad he criticized my game because as a coach I like that," Milliner said of Ryan. "I could have been more aggressive, though, at times."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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