The Jets welcomed rookie cornerback Dee Milliner to the practice field on Wednesday, two days after he signed his contract. Now, the real work begins for a player who could only rehab during offseason workouts.
After competing at the NFL Combine in late February, Milliner had shoulder surgery and didn’t work out on his Pro Day at Alabama or in any private workouts. It didn’t hurt his draft stock as the entirety of his playing career with the Crimson Tide was a highlight reel, but it kept him off the field for rookie minicamp and all offseason workouts including June’s minicamp.
On Wednesday, Milliner was eased into practice and while he wasn’t full on, he was able to do some drills. He showed quick feet and good hips.
“It felt great; I had no problems out there. It felt good,” Milliner said. “I had no problems out there, doing the drills. I did a couple tackling drills. I was fine.”
There is no timetable for him to be cleared for the team sessions. Milliner reported to training camp late Monday and took his physical on Tuesday — a designated day off. He then went straight to the classroom to get caught up to speed for what would await him the next day. His classroom presence during offseason workouts was praised by defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on Monday but it remains to be seen how he will pick up things on the field.
There will be physical components Milliner will need to adjust to but Thurman is just excited to see a player who changes the dynamics of the secondary.
“When you looked at him, he was probably the most complete corner that came out of this year’s draft. I mean, he doesn’t just play the pass, he also plays the run,” Thurman said after Milliner’s signing. “He knows how to play man [and] he knows how to play zone. He understands what it takes to play on the corners mentality. So we expect him to come in and continue to do what he’s doing.”
The consensus top cornerback in this past April’s NFL Draft, Milliner comes to the Jets with a reputation as a good cover cornerback who isn’t afraid of physical play. He has good instincts and a knack of getting to the ball, but he will need more than just that to make it at the next level.
Last week, the Jets lost Aaron Berry to a season-ending knee injury, a blow to a secondary that already saw Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis traded away this offseason. With Berry having a good training camp before the injury, it will place an emphasis on Milliner getting up to speed as quickly as possible.
Jets notes ...
» Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was held out of team drills and rode the exercise bicycle, with head coach Rex Ryan saying dental issues kept the player off the field on Wednesday. Ryan was hopeful the situation would be resolved today.
» Also on the exercise bicycle was running back Chris Ivory, who tried team drills but ran off the field early in the session. Ivory has been battling a nagging hamstring injury.