- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, coming off his third in-game benching of the season, will start Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, according to New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman.
Whether Milliner finishes remains to be seen.
The Jets gave Milliner a quick hook last week because they didn't like the way he responded to his blatant missed tackle on Mike Wallace's 28-yard touchdown reception, which came late in the third quarter of the Miami Dolphins' 23-3 win. The first-round pick (No. 9 overall) apparently has to work on his recovery skills.
"You're always going to try to win the game and, at that point, you're looking at the reaction of the player," Thurman said Thursday. "And there are times where you look at him, you look in his eyes and you say, 'You know what? This isn't a good look.' And you say, 'OK, let's make a move.' It's not different than a baseball pitcher. Hell, if he's given up two home runs and you pull him, well he got pulled and they put in a reliever. That doesn't mean he doesn't make his next start. That's how we look at it."
Thurman acknowledged that a hook "could be an overreaction on our part," but he said the coaches have to make heat-of-the-moment decisions that could decide a game. Still, it has to be a concern. Mental toughness is a necessary intangible for every cornerback, especially rookies. If Milliner isn't resilient, he'll have a tough time in this league.
Thurman said Milliner has reponded nicely this week in practice. Practice is practice. The games are what matter.
"It's just like baseball," Thurman said. "You hand him the ball and say, 'Go out there and throw it.' We'll see."