After missing four training camp practices, Dee Milliner is set to join his teammates and he is expected to participate in team action this week for the Jets. But while the Jets are pleased that Milliner put pen to paper on a contract, he won't necessarily be with the first unit when the Green & White return to the practice field.
"He's got to earn it. Like everybody else," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman told a throng of reporters following Monday's practice. "He knows that — we know it. We don't just give anybody anything in this league. You have to earn it. We do expect him to be involved and highly competitive to be a starter. That's our anticipation, so we'll see."
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson have manned the outside early in camp. Wilson, who took over for an injured Darrelle Revis in Week 3 last season, started a career-high 15 games in 2012 as he saw extensive action on the outside for the first time in his career.
While Cromartie is the unquestioned No. 1 corner on the roster, both Wilson and Milliner can play inside and outside. The Jets cornerback depth took a hit when Aaron Berry went down with an ACL injury, but Milliner will be a talented on-the-field addition who has a bright mind for the game.
"As far as the mental part of it, he is very sharp," DT said. "I mean a lot of the things that we do, they were doing at Alabama. A lot of the terms, our terminology and their terminology matched. So it wasn't a difficult transition for him. We feel like if he's done any studying at all that he should come in and be fairly close to where he needs to be."
Milliner, who was selected No. 9 overall by New York's AFC representative, had offseason shoulder surgery and was a spectator for OTAs and minicamp.
"The biggest transition for him is going to be the quickness of the game, the speed of the game," Thurman said. "How quickly he can get himself acclimated to that will be his biggest challenge."
A short holdout ended late Sunday evening. If Milliner passes his physical and conditioning test today, he'll finally be in action when the Green & White resume practice Wednesday.
"He was probably the most complete corner that came out of this year's draft," Thurman said. "I mean, he doesn't just play the pass, he also plays the run. He knows how to play man, he knows how to play zone. He understands what it takes to play on the corner's mentality. So we expect him to come in and continue to do what he's doing.'