Even though Rex Ryan loves what he sees from cornerback Dee Milliner playing for Alabama in the SEC, the coach says the rookie needs time to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
CORTLAND – The video lasted 125 seconds, which was more than enough time to witness Dee Milliner’s remarkable gifts.
He ran step-for-step with receivers, batted down passes, blew up read-option runs and blitzed unsuspecting quarterbacks in this college highlight reel, but there was one glaring flaw.
He can’t chase ghosts.
Milliner surely will be compared to perennial Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis now that the rookie cornerback is in Jets camp after ending a brief holdout.
It’s ridiculous, really, to make the association for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie will actually be assuming Revis’ former role of shadowing opponents’ No. 1 receivers. Revis and Milliner, however, still will be linked, which isn’t fair to a player who hasn’t even practiced with his new teammates yet.
“I understand where people are coming from,” Rex Ryan said of comparing his newest cornerback with Revis. “But Darrelle was a special player. We’ll see what kind of player Dee is. Dee Milliner is never going to be Darrelle Revis. He’s going to be Dee Milliner. And I think that’s going to be good enough.”
Milliner, who will take his conditioning test on Tuesday, spent the spring rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, so there will be some level of intrigue when Jets trainers eventually clear him for contact at practice in the coming days.
Milliner may never turn into the shutdown force that Revis was before he shredded his knee last season, but he has the skill set to significantly upgrade the secondary.
Darrelle Revis is now shutting down one side of the field for Greg Schiano and Tampa Bay.
Revis is a once-in-a-generation talent that the Jets shouldn’t have traded to the Buccaneers in the offseason, but even Ryan has moved on.
Revis is part of the past.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who helped cultivate Revis’ and Cromartie’s talents as their position coach the past few years, will be invaluable in Milliner’s transition from a sophisticated Alabama defense to Ryan’s complex scheme.
Thurman admitted that both systems have similar terminology, so “if he’s done any studying at all, he should come in and be fairly close to where he needs to be.”
Milliner has the qualities to be a great cornerback — short-term memory, competitiveness, toughness and fearlessness in 1-on-1 matchups — but the Jets must be careful with his workload early on to avoid injuries (see: hamstring) after he spent the entire offseason on the sideline.