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Geno Smith, Dee Milliner Won't Back Down

Posted Jul 29, 2014

QB, CB Have Confidence in Themselves but Know They Still Have to Prove It on the Field

Two second-year players have made bold statements about their standing in the NFL, but CB Dee Milliner and QB Geno Smith know it’s time to back up their claims with their play on the field.

Milliner, who told the Daily News that he believes he’s the best cornerback in the league, did not shy away from his statements after today’s training camp practice at SUNY Cortland, especially when asked if he added more to his plate with his statements, considering the receivers he’ll face in the beginning of the season.

“In a way you can say that, but like I said, I’m not worried about that. I've just got to go out there and play,” he said. “Do what I do best, go out there and make plays, and just worry about what I can control, go out there and prove myself.”

Starting in Week 2, Milliner will face three of the top wide receivers in the league, all of whom reside in the NFC North: Green Bay's Jordy Nelson, Chicago's Brandon Marshall and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.

Milliner, who had his struggles early in 2013, came on strong during the last month of the season. He recorded all three of his interceptions in December, including two picks in a win at Miami to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month and AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

He’ll certainly look to continue that momentum, while also taking advantage of participating in offseason workouts and training camp. Recovery from his shoulder injury sidelined him for most of his rookie offseason.

“You need that to get out there with your teammates to get a feel of things,” Milliner said of participating in OTAs, minicamp and the beginning of training camp. “Not being as much involved last year, it can hurt you in a way because you’re not getting the reps. I’m out there now getting much needed reps.”

Smith, another player who struggled at times during his rookie year before having an impressive last quarter, told ESPN.com he expects to become a top-five quarterback in the league after this year or next.

Focus, Smith said, will be key for the Jets, and himself, if they hope to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves.

“I think every team in the league has those same goals and aspirations,” he said today. “We have confidence in ourselves, but we understand that it takes a ton of hard work and you have to prove it out there on the field.

"But we’re never going to sell ourselves short. The main thing is that we continue to stay focused. We’re all level-headed. No one’s sitting here saying we cornered the market on anything. We believe that we have to put the work in, and if we do so then we’ll have a good team.”

Smith said he is well aware that the Jets will need to continue to work to improve, but added he’s feeling good about the confidence level of his teammates.

“I like hearing it, but you've got to walk the fine line,” he said. “You've got to understand that it takes a ton of hard work. In order to be a good team in this league you have to be very disciplined and do a ton of things right. That’s the reason why we practice hard. We try and focus on the little details.”

Milliner said his teammates have supported him recently after hearing where he thinks he's ranked in the NFL. Veteran RB Chris Johnson said the confidence levels of Milliner and Smith are a direct result of the work ethic they displayed during the offseason.

“I don’t think there’s too many people in this league who would go out and say another guy is better than them,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, they’re out here working hard and that’s their goal and that’s what they’re trying to accomplish.”





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