It's a testament to Dee Milliner that the Jets' cornerback has held up through his first three-plus seasons in green and white to answer questions Saturday afternoon about this season as quietly and confidently as he did. Such as:
Do you think you can have a healthy season finally?
"Yes, I do. Hopefully I can stay that way. I'm trying to do my best. I'm praying and hoping I can stay healthy all year."
And: Do you think you can be the starter on the outside opposite Darrelle Revis this season?
"Yes, I do. All of us are competing. Everybody goes out there. We're all a brotherhood, all of us will pick each other up and try to stay together and work together."
Milliner said he's feeling fine right now and that's saying something. He came to the Jets as their first-round pick out of Alabama, No. 9 overall, in 2013 with a shoulder injury. Over the course of his stay, he's missed time due to injuries to his hamstring (2013, 3 games), ankle (2014, 1 game), quadriceps (2014, 2 games), Achilles (2014, last 10 games), wrist (2015, first 8 games), illness (2015, 1 game) and hamstring again (2015, last 2 games).
What he's attempting to do is rare in franchise history. From the first AFL-NFL merged draft in 1967 through 2013, the Jets have made 51 first-round selections. Only four played 21 games or fewer in their first three years — C Paul Seiler (1967, 13 games), DE Ron Faurot (1984, 20 games), QB Chad Pennington (2000, 18 games), and Milliner (21 games).
Milliner is trying to become only the second Jets first-rounder along with Pennington and their only defensive No. 1 to play fewer than 22 games in his first three seasons and then make the roster in his fourth year.
So far, so good. As Revis assessed this week about Milliner, "I think he definitely had great spring ball and he's having a great camp so far. You can tell he's motivated and that's great. He's been set back with a lot of injuries throughout his career and now he's healthy, so that's good. He's making a lot of strides."
Besides striding well in the first three days of camp and getting some reps with the first defense, Milliner even had one of the plays of Saturday's indoor practice, closing well on WR Kenbrell Thompkins, popping the juggled pass in the air and picking it off.
"It's just a year that I've got to go out there and play," Milliner said. "I can't be injured, I can't be on the sidelines. I've got to go out there and compete for a job, and if I do get the opportunity, I need to make the best of it."