What began as a routine training-camp practice Sunday abruptly turned into the Jets' first major crisis of the season.
First, it was rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle suffering a left knee injury during a one-on-one drill in upstate Cortland. Torn ACL. Done for the year.
Not even 30 minutes later, it was 2013 first-round cornerback Dee Milliner suffering a badly sprained left ankle. Out indefinitely. Probably at least a few weeks.
So with recently signed free agent Dimitri Patterson out with calf and ankle injuries (he is day-to-day), the Jets are without three of their top four cornerbacks. That means if the season were to start today, the Jets' top three corners would be former first-rounder Kyle Wilson (largely a disappointment throughout his Jets career), Darrin Walls and Ras-I Dowling.
Not good. Especially at a position that was murky to begin with. Making it even worse is that first-round rookie safety Calvin Pryor is coming off a concussion.
Before you point a finger at general manager John Idzik, who clearly wanted to go younger at corner and failed to outbid the Giants for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the Bucs for Alterraun Verner, no one can predict injuries. And if you still think the Jets should have paid a king's ransom to Darrelle Revis instead of trading him to the Bucs, or should have re-signed him to a one-year, $12-million deal, go for it.
But if you do, think about what it would be like without Sheldon Richardson, whom the Jets drafted with the first-round pick they acquired in the Revis trade. Or think about renting Revis for this season, only to have his contract issues resurface. Remember, too, that Revis is not indestructible; he suffered a torn ACL early in the 2012 season.
The one move -- or non-move, actually -- I will quibble about with Idzik is not keeping Antonio Cromartie, who could have been had on the cheap this season. He took a modest one-year, $3.25-million deal with the Cardinals. That's about a quarter of what Revis was demanding, and Cromartie's familiarity with the Jets' defense would have been a significant asset. Especially at a time like this.
Chances are Idzik will have to see what's out there on the market. Former Giant Corey Webster could be signed to an affordable deal. Other unsigned corners include Asante Samuel, Chris Carr and Dunta Robinson. They're all over 30, but they're all worth checking out.
Fortunately for the Jets, Rex Ryan has been a terrific mentor for young corners, and he'll get the most out of the talent he has. So it won't be a surprise if the Jets stand pat for a while to see more of what they have on the roster.
But without Milliner for a prolonged period, the Jets undoubtedly will suffer. The former Alabama star was having a terrific camp, earning the nickname "Franchise'' from linebacker Demario Davis. He nearly intercepted a pass in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Colts, a reminder of how he emerged late last season after a series of benchings. He had the look of a big-time corner, but now he has to wait until his ankle heals. It could be a while.
McDougle was having the usual rookie growing pains, so he might not have been ready to contribute this year. The Jets love his talent, but now they'll have to wait until next season.
"These kinds of situations, I've had to deal with them in the past," Ryan said. "It'll be adversity for some, opportunity for others. We'll put the best 11 out there. We'll be able to play defense. We've got a lot of good football players. We'll be fine. I've been talking about our depth, and now we'll get to see it."
He hopes to like what he sees. Then again, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and all the other great quarterbacks the Jets will face this year might like what they see even more.