- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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Being a rookie starter is great, but as cornerback Dee Milliner learned after he was benched during Thursday’s 13-10 loss to the New England Patriots, you have to be able to finish.
Milliner was taken by the New York Jets with the 9th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. That’s the kind of spot where a player is expected to come in and make an impact, but that hasn’t happened. Milliner was well enough healed from shoulder surgery to get on the field during training camp in Cortland N.Y. after a delay in signing his contract, but it might not have been enough time to get completely up to speed.
Against the Patriots, Milliner played so poorly opposite of Antonio Cromartie that Jets coach Rex Ryan decided to bench him at halftime.
Kyle Wilson replaced Milliner in the second half. So does this mean that the first-rounder has been intentionally grounded for the Buffalo Bills game?
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Ryan said. “It’s unfortunate that he missed so much work, and as you guys pointed out before, all the minicamp rehabbing the shoulder injury, you know, the surgery, and then he missed a lot of training camp as well. So we kind of just threw him into the fire. He’s an excellent player, he’s going to be an excellent player. At that time I thought it was best, you know what, I’ll sit him down let him watch it, and we’ll go with more experience out there.”
Cromartie said he thought Milliner handled the benching well, and will learn from the episode.
“I was fine with it,” Milliner said after the game. “He felt the need to make that decision. I made a couple of mistakes on a couple calls. I got benched before in college, for sort of the same thing.”
Ryan has high expectations for the defense, and he has high expectations for Milliner. Ryan insisted that Milliner will get there, he’s just not there yet.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before he adapts and makes the adjustments to the NFL game,” Ryan said. “But there are times where it’s like, hey, it happens quick and we’ve got to get him back in and really channel him back in and really know how the opponent’s trying to attack you. But I have all the confidence in the world that Dee’s going to be a tremendous player for us. We’ll see. We’ll come back and we’ll have another good look at it this week through practice.”