The New York Jets announced late Sunday night that they had agreed to terms with cornerback Dee Milliner, their first pick of the April draft. While the team awaited his arrival at SUNY Cortland, players and coaches weighed in on the importance of inking Milliner to a deal and what comes next for the rookie from Alabama.
"It's good to get him," head coach Rex Ryan said. "We'll see where he is physically. Hopefully he comes out and everything is good and we're able to get him on the field as soon as possible."
The Jets have an off day Tuesday, but they hope Dee will be able to suit up and compete as soon as Wednesday's 10 a.m. practice. He must pass both his physical and his conditioning test between now and then. He underwent his fifth surgery in March, this one on his shoulder, but the team expected he would be ready for the start of training camp when they drafted him.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said "it's on all of us" to get Milliner up to speed as quickly as possible. His first step will be taking Dee into the classroom to catch up mentally. The learning curve shouldn't be too difficult because the Jets and the Crimson Tide have lots of overlap in their play terminology, according to Thurman.
Ryan echoed the notion that Dee shouldn't have too much trouble with preparing mentally based on what he saw from him both in the classroom and in rehabbing throughout the offseason.
"In the things that he could do, he was doing a tremendous job," Rex said. "He was doing everything that he possibly could do and doing it at a high level, so I was impressed with how he was picking things up."
As for the physical aspect of the game, the 6'0", 201-pounder might need a few days to get back into it.
"We know he's mentally there," CB Antonio Cromartie said. "He was there all during OTAs. It's just the physical part that we want to see. That's the biggest thing when coming into a training camp your rookie year. You want to try to be in the best shape. You're not going to be in football shape, but you want to try to be in the best shape that you can."
DE Quinton Coples' advice to the rookie corner: "Just come in and do what the coaches ask you. Work hard and at the end of the day, let the coaches coach you and you go out there and play football. I think that's what's most important. I think he's going to come in and as long as he gets into the playbook and takes care of business on the field, that's the reason why we drafted him. I think everything will fall in place."
"Obviously, he can run," Ryan said, referencing his 4.37 40 time, "His tape shows he's a very confident player. We'll see how he does ... there is an adjustment to this league, there's no doubt."
Asked if the comparisons of Milliner to Darrelle Revis will ever go away, Ryan said "Well, I'll tell you what. I hope when he plays, there are those comparisons, you know what I mean? I understand where people are coming from, but Darrelle was a special player, and we'll see what kind of player Dee is. But 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 is scheduled to speak to the media this evening around 7:30 p.m. ET. Newyorkjets.com will stream the press conference live when he takes the podium.