We're still not to Sunday morning yet, but the health of the Jets' cornerbacks appears to be improving at a good time.
Dee Milliner, who's sat the past three games with a hamstring pull and in fact did not participate in any of the practices before those games, has been limited for both sessions this week.
"Yeah, hopefully I can get out there," Milliner said after today's practice about returning to action against the Patriots. "I'm just listening to the trainers. If they say I'm good to go, I'm going out there and play and do what I can."
Rex Ryan was also optimistic about seeing this year's top draft pick return to the field.
"Absolutely, I'm hopeful he'll play Sunday," the head coach said.
Asked if that meant Milliner would return to the starting role he held the first two games of the season, (including of course Game 2 at New England, when Ryan benched him at halftime), Rex suggested reporters were getting "caught up in that starting deal."
"We'll play him. I want to play him some. No question. Does that mean he runs out, trots out with the starters? Sure, why not? We'll see. It doesn't matter. They all play for us."
Milliner is eager to help in any role he's given, in part just because he wants to play and in part because he is taking things to heart like his play in Game 2 and the team's play without him in last week's loss to the Steelers.
"I know that as a DB, you've got to have a short-term memory, but I do want to go out there and play those guys. It's a division game, a big game for us," he said. "Also, you know it's the next game. You always want to come back and try to redeem yourself after last week, the loss that we had at home, so we just want to come out play hard, just go out there and try to get a win."
Milliner isn't the only corner nearing a return. CB Kyle Wilson is in a similar boat to Milliner's. His injury was a concussion sustained from getting rocked as he went low to bring down Pittsburgh rookie RB Le'Veon Bell for no gain in the second quarter Sunday. It was the first concussion Kyle said he's ever suffered and he's just rolling with the rehab now.
"I feel good," Wilson said after upgrading to limited participating and wearing a red no-contact jersey at today's practice. "I can just do what they ask me to do, and that's come in each day and take some tests, be honest with them and move forward day by day. They say everybody's different, so I'm just doing what they ask me to do and right now that's get healthy, hydrate and rest. I'm just following doctor's orders."
Antonio Cromartie said it's just a matter of time before we see more extensive action from the young man from Alabama.
"Just having him out there on the football field, he's our guy," Cromartie said. "He's been missing because of a hamstring injury so he's been working hard and that's all we can ask for him. He's catching on more and more to this defense and understanding what we expect of him and what he expects of himself also."
More from the Injury Front
WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) didn't participate again. Ryan said of Tone's availability for the Pats, "It's a gametime decision. It doesn't look good, but we'll lean on the doctors and trainers for that." Also DNP: WR Greg Salas (knee). Also limited: WR David Nelson (hamstring).
For the Patriots, CB Aqib Talib, WR Danny Amendola, DL Tommy Kelly and RB-KR Leon Washington all didn't practice again. G Dan Connolly (concussion) went from DNP to limited today. OL Marcus Cannon (shoulder) was added to the injury list as limited. The Patriots now list 15 injured players to the Jets' 13.
Will TE Rob Gronkowski come back from his offseason/preseason/regular-season-long back and forearm issues to play vs. the Jets? Ryan said we're prepared if he does.
"We're assuming he'll play, but you're also ready if he doesn't," Ryan said, adding the Jets may have defensive game plans "1 and 1-A" for both eventualities, but "obviously that's the way you go in, assuming he'll play."