Rookie Dee Milliner may have been tapped to start at cornerback this season opposite Antonio Cromartie, but it has been apparent in the preseason that he has a long way to go before he merits comparison to Darrelle Revis.
During Saturday night's preseason game vs. Jacksonville, Milliner didn’t go hard off the line of scrimmage and allowed too much space in man-to-man coverage as the Jaguars scored on their first possession of the game.
“For him it’s a learning experience,” Cromartie said. “For this game, it’s the second preseason game for him and we expect more from him than we saw tonight. That’s something that he needs to learn from and he has to come out with a great attitude and get ready for the next week when we get ready to play guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. When we come to Week One, we have to play two of the best receivers in the NFL with Vincent Jackson and also Mike Williams.”
For most other rookies, there might be time to grow, but Milliner was taken with a first-round pick during the offseason that Revis left for Tampa Bay. Incidentally, the Buccaneers are the very team the Jets will face in the first game of the regular season, and the comparisons between Milliner and one of -- if not the best -- corners in the league will be stark.
Even Ryan, who loves nothing more than a solid corner, iterated the flaws in Milliner's game against the Jags.
“I didn’t like the way we competed and challenged on the outside -- not so much Cromartie, but from Dee,” Ryan said. “When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let’s go. Let’s play.”
Clearly, the Jets would like to see more aggressiveness out of Milliner, who played for Alabama last year and had shoulder surgery during the offseason. The 6-foot, 201-pound rookie briefly held out before signing his contract, and the Jets brought him along gradually at first.
It wasn’t long though until Ryan said Milliner would be opposite Cromartie in man coverage, while CB Kyle Wilson will play a more versatile role as a safety and nickel.
Ryan and Jets general manager John Idzik have said that Milliner will be judged on his own merits, not in terms of filling Revis’s cleats, but if the Jets' defense continues to struggle as they did against the Jaguars, Milliner could take some heat.