Jets fans can exhale at last. After a “long, drowsy day,” the ninth overall pick of the 2013 draft has arrived at SUNY Cortland and his surgically repaired shoulder is “100 percent back.”
“It’s feeling great being back a part of the team,” the first-round cornerback said, “seeing my teammates again, and just to get back starting football since I’ve been away from it for a while.”
Passing that test shouldn’t be an issue, as Dee has been training at his alma mater, the University of Alabama, while leaving contract negotiations to his agent. He says he’s in football shape.
“I’ve just been at school running, training, doing the same things that they do here,” he said. “I’m very much in shape, like I’ve been playing football the whole time. If my trainers want me to go full throttle as soon as I get back, I’m ready for that.”
Mentally, Dee believes he won’t have much catching up to do.
“I’ve been seeing the plays, been a part of them at practice, watching, learning,” he said. “I just haven’t been on the field, but it’s football so you get back out there, get back in the roll of things. I know I’ll be fine, it’s just getting back to it and actually going out there and playing.”
It helps, he says, that many of the football concepts here with the Jets overlap those that he learned in Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide defense.
As for his position on the depth chart, Milliner understands that some things are simply out of his hands.
“You go out there, control what you do," he said, "and that’s just going out there and playing your best, doing your best and you leave it up to the coaches. They make the ultimate decision whether or not you get your playing time.”
Milliner says he will spend extra time in the classroom studying film in order to best prepare for the physical demands of covering NFL wide receivers.
“You’ve got guys now, wide receivers, that are going to pay attention to what you do on defense,” he said, “You have guys that are going to study anything that you do good and try to break it down. So you’ve got to do more studying of them and also try to break them down more.”
The business side of football has been resolved. Now, let the games begin.“I’m just ready to get to work," Milliner said, "and earn my paycheck.”