Cornerback Dee Milliner began December in a bad way, getting benched in a Dec. 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but he finished on the rise. On Thursday, he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for December.
Milliner closed the season with two interceptions in the New York Jets' win over the Dolphins, ending the campaign with three -- tied for the team lead. It was a wildly inconsistent year for the ninth overall pick, who struggled so much that he was benched in three different games.
But coach Rex Ryan stuck by Milliner. In late October, Ryan offered this strident defense of the rookie: "By the time this season is over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft. I don’t think there’s any doubt. You anticipate that. He was the No. 1 corner selected. I think he’s close. I really do."
The folks in Atlanta might argue that, as Desmond Trufant (No. 22 overall) also had a solid year.