- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (hamstring) and running back Chris Ivory (hamstring) have been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. Both didn't practice Friday.
"They're doing better," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Dee thinks he can play. He never practiced so he's not playing. He's feeling a lot better."
Milliner, a rookie, will miss the first game of his career. He tweaked his hamstring during Wednesday's practice, and sat out Thursday for what he believed to be precautionary reasons. Milliner said Thursday he thought he'd be ready to go. He was limited on Wednesday, the only day he practiced.
The cornerback has dealt with several injuries during his brief time with the Jets. He missed OTAs and minicamp after undergoing surgery on a torn labrum on March 12 and missed two preseason games with an Achilles injury. He was listed earlier this season on the injury report with a hip issue, although he didn't miss any time. He's already had five surgeries dating back to his college days at Alabama.
The Jets drafted Milliner with the ninth pick, and he has struggled in his first three games. After starting the first two, he was demoted to nickel packages against the Bills. In the previous game against New England, he was benched in the second half after a rough first half. He played just 22 snaps against the Bills, the second fewest among the team's defensive backs.
With Milliner out, third-year cornerback Darrin Walls will step into a larger role. Ryan did not announce who will start opposite Antonio Cromartie, but he said Walls will be the outside corner in nickel packages, while Kyle Wilson will move to the slot. Wilson has the versatility to play both spots.
Wilson started last week against the Bills but had a rough day. Wilson was penalized on four consecutive plays before being benched for a series. Walls has played just 38 defensive snaps this season, and he played a season-high 28 against the Bills. He didn't play a defensive snap in the season opener.
Ryan said the team's defensive packages are based on the other team's personnel.
"We're flexible in our system," Ryan said. "We play three safeties, we play a lot of corners. Some guy goes trotting out there first, he may start but somebody else is starting in different packages and everything else. We just try to get the most out of our players and put our guys in situations to be successful. Sometimes there's different matchups. You might start Kyle against a certain type of player, you may start Walls or Dee, whatever it is. That's kind of how we approach each week."
Ivory tweaked his left hamstring during Sunday's win over Buffalo, playing just four snaps. After being tackled on his final run of the game, Ivory grabbed his left hamstring before leaving the field.
The running back missed two weeks of practice during training camp as that same left hamstring flared up, though in a different location this time. This will be the first game Ivory misses as a Jet. The Jets are not expecting him to make a quick recovery due to his history returning from injuries.
Ivory has struggled with injuries throughout his career, and it's already plaguing him with the Jets. The Jets acquired him from New Orleans for a fourth-round pick in the offseason, and he hasn't produced thus far, rushing 26 times for just 72 yards and failing to reach the end zone.
With Ivory out, Bilal Powell will once again be the featured back. Powell has been the team's best running back thus far, rushing for a career-high 149 yards against the Bills last week. Once considered the forgotten man in the team's rotation, Powell has rushed for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Alex Green likely will be the backup running back, as he was the No. 2 option after Ivory went down Sunday. Ryan said fullback Tommy Bohanon could also play tailback, and tight end Konrad Reuland can play fullback to provide more options.
The Jets will also be without offensive lineman Oday Aboushi (knee) against the Titans, while linebacker Quinton Coples (ankle), wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot), defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (shoulder), defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (back) and cornerback Cromartie (hip) are probable.
4dField Yates and Rich Cimini