Friday, August 8, 2014
Milliner looks good, Patterson not so much
By Kieran Darcy
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dee Milliner believes he's the best cornerback in the NFL, but even if he lived up to that boast, the New York Jets may be in deep trouble.
That's because Milliner's counterpart, Dimitri Patterson, looked like possibly one of the NFL's weakest starting cornerbacks Thursday night.
Patterson gave up two big plays during the first quarter of the Jets' 13-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and was flagged for defensive holding in the third quarter as well.
On the opening drive of the game, and only the third play from scrimmage, the Colts faced a 3rd-and-11 from their own 19-yard line. Patterson was matched up with former New York Giant Hakeem Nicks, gave Nicks way too much of a cushion, and then fell down while trying to close the gap. Nicks ended up with a 15-yard gain.
Two drives later, with the Colts' first-string offense already out of the game, backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hooked up with third-string wideout Da'Rick Rogers for 45 yards on a 3rd-and-6 from their own 24-yard line. Patterson was beaten badly by Rogers, who reeled in a deep lob down the right-hand sideline.
"I had a couple plays that I wish I could have back," Patterson said.
The Jets signed Patterson in early April after Antonio Cromartie left for the Arizona Cardinals and GM John Idzik chose not to open the coffers for a higher-profile replacement such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The 31-year-old Patterson had four interceptions for the Miami Dolphins last season. But he played in just six games due to injuries, was only able to play in two games for the Dolphins the year before, and is already on his seventh NFL team.
Patterson sounded like a player still working himself into game shape, but did not use that as an excuse.
"I don't know who's 100 percent physically at this point in time in [training] camp, you're in the thick of things," Patterson said. "If you have fresh legs during the preseason games, God bless you, I don't know. But I felt good enough to play and be productive, so that's all you can really ask for at this time."
Coach Rex Ryan stuck up for Patterson after the game. "They knew both of our corners were hanging out to dry," Ryan said. "They were taking some one-on-one shots out there. Dimitri's a veteran player and he'll respond."
"Every guy gives up completions," Ryan added. "The thing I liked was that he finished and made a tackle on one of those deep ones. He might not have had his best day, but it certainly wasn't on him. I put him out to dry a little bit."
The Jets have taken a big gamble in relying on Patterson opposite Milliner. The second-string corners, as of the latest depth chart, are the underachieving former first-round pick Kyle Wilson and this year's third-round pick, Dexter McDougle (who's also coming off an injury).
Patterson predicted improved play in the days ahead. "Those are downs that I've won and I can win, so I can definitely be better, no doubt about it," he said. "[I'm] just transitioning, getting back into the flow of things."
On the bright side, Milliner actually played rather well against the Colts, with a couple of nice pass breakups and a near-interception.
"He's doing a great job," Ryan said. "I would have loved to see him come up with that interception, but he made a great play."