- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said he wasn't annoyed by Dee Milliner's "I'm-the-best" proclamation. At the same time, Thurman, an old-school coach, delivered a semi-pointed warning to the second-year cornerback.
"It doesn't bother me because it doesn't mean anything," Thurman said Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time in training camp. "You have to go out and play. Nobody goes out and talks their way through the National Football League. You have to perform your way through this league."
This could be a challenging season for Thurman because it's the youngest secondary of the Rex Ryan era. Four of the top seven defensive backs have less than three years of experience in Milliner, rookie safety Calvin Pryor, rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle and third-year safety Antonio Allen. At times, it will be Football 101 in the defensive backs room.
[You have to] coach like you're in college, because that's really what we're dealing with," Thurman said. "Me, personally, I feel like, when I'm talking to them or working with them, I feel like when I was back at USC."
Thurman hasn't seen much of Pryor because the first-round pick has missed four practices with a concussion. He said Pryor is "a little ways behind, but he has time to catch up." Thurman stated the obvious, saying, "We expect him to be a pretty integral part of the defense." He'll probably start.
In minicamp, Thurman was effusive in his evaluation of McDougle, but he has toned it down. That happens to rookies; reality hits hard when the pads go on and the playbook becomes harder to digest. Thurman said McDougle can play better. The third-round pick, who has taken a few first-team reps, left practice Thursday with a groin injury.