Dee Milliner responds 'well' to benching

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
7:37
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets head coach Rex Ryan liked how rookie cornerback Dee Milliner played Sunday against Buffalo after being benched in the previous game against New England.

"I liked the way Dee responded," Ryan said. "I thought he played well."

Milliner, the ninth pick in April's NFL draft, found himself on the sideline for the second half of the Jets' 13-10 loss to the Patriots on Sept. 12. Milliner struggled in coverage, getting beat for a touchdown that was later called back, and appeared to make a mistake on New England's first touchdown.

[+] EnlargeDee Milliner
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsDee Milliner said his playing time in Sunday's win "didn't matter."
Milliner had been starting on the outside opposite Antonio Cromartie, but he didn't reclaim his starting gig on Sunday, instead being relegated to nickel packages. He learned of his demotion before the game. The Jets started former first-round pick Kyle Wilson to complement Cromartie.

"It was fine. I was back on the field, felt good," Milliner said. "Happy I was able to be out there on the field and make plays and be with the team."

The rookie played just 22 snaps (about 25 percent of the defensive snaps), the second-fewest of all the defensive backs. Milliner played all 61 snaps in the opener against Tampa Bay, and 37 before being benched against the Patriots. When Wilson got pulled for one drive after committing four consecutive penalties, the Jets turned to Darrin Walls instead of Milliner.

"It didn't matter," Milliner said of his low play count. "I knew I was going to be in the nickel package so. ... whatever plays it was going to be [that's] how many reps I was going to be out there, so I was fine with it."

Milliner said last week he needed to improve on his checks and alertness, and he believed he did that in Jets' 27-20 win. He did not make any tackles.

"I felt good in yesterday's game," Milliner said. "Did some things better than I usually do. Felt good the whole time I was out there. I want to go out there and do things better. Worked at it the whole week of practice and did it good in the game."

With just three games under his belt, Milliner said he's continuing to gain confidence with each game he plays, and with the more time he spends working in the defensive scheme.

He's not fixating on whether or not he's the starting corner for the squad.

"Just go out there and compete and do my job day in and day out," Milliner said. "Try to get better each day and continue to work."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.