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Dee Milliner expects to bust out after two injury-plagued seasons

Dee Milliner, center, talks with Ellis Lankster, left,

Dee Milliner, center, talks with Ellis Lankster, left, and Royce Adams during training camp on July 31, 2013. Credit: Hans Pennink

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Two years ago, the Jets selected cornerback Dee Milliner with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft to replace Darrelle Revis, whom they had traded to Tampa Bay. But after an injury-plagued career to this point, including an Achilles tendon tear last season, Milliner knows there are people who are starting to use the dreaded "B" word -- bust -- to describe him.

"Man!" Milliner said of his detractors. "Let 'em talk. Let 'em label me as they want to label me. I didn't get to this point by being a bust. I'm just going to go out and do what I can do and let the people talk what they're going to talk."

The 23-year-old Milliner did not appear in team workouts Tuesday, the first day of the Jets' three-day minicamp. But he said he expects to be fully healthy when training camp starts next month. He won't be the team's No. 1 cornerback when he does come back, though. With the return of Revis and Antonio Cromartie as free agents this offseason, and the addition of another free-agent corner, Buster Skrine, Milliner will be a backup -- at best -- in his third pro season.

But the former Alabama star said he's not discouraged by that, and he insisted he wasn't disappointed when the team brought back Revis and Cromartie.

"I can learn everything from them," he said. "Cro's been my teammate before [in 2013], and we were great friends. We always talk. Now, bringing 'Reve' along with him, a great player -- one of the best right now -- [I can] just learn from them guys and I can go out there and be on the same side of the ball and compete with them. It doesn't get better."

Milliner, who had five surgeries in college, started slowly as a rookie in 2013 but finished strongly in the final four weeks of the season. Last year, however, a high ankle sprain in training camp cost him the entire preseason and the first game of the regular season; a quadriceps injury caused him to miss the third and fourth games. Then in the sixth game of the season, Milliner collapsed with the Achilles injury as he tried to block a field goal against the Denver Broncos.

In his two-year career, injuries have limited Milliner to 16 games, and he admitted that's been frustrating.

"If there wouldn't have been so many injuries, I could have been out there doing what I was supposed to do," he said. "That's part of it -- you're going to get hurt, so I've just got to bounce back from it."

New York Sports