Dee Milliner knows first-hand just how fast the Jets’ new receiving corps is.
The second-year cornerback was conspicuously absent from team drills during Wednesday’s OTA session because of a tight left hamstring. Later, head coach Rex Ryan explained that a few days ago, Milliner “was trying to run with one of our fast guys and made a great play, and then later he came back (with tightness).”
Milliner spent much of Wednesday’s practice patrolling the sideline, sans helmet, and pedaling on the stationary bike. He didn’t, however, seem too concerned about sitting out.
“Just precautionary, just tightness in my leg,” he told reporters, adding that his hamstring started bothering him a few days ago.
Though Ryan noted that Milliner had been “impressive” until this latest setback, the Jets coach stressed Milliner’s health is of utmost importance this season.
“He has to understand too that he’s got to be in extraordinary shape,” Ryan said. “His challenge is: be in world-class shape. Cause we have to have you out there. He needs to be out there and he needs to get work. Cause that’s how he’s going to get better.”
Milliner, a former defensive stud at Alabama, was unable to participate in rookie minicamp and OTAs last year because of offseason shoulder surgery. He also showed up late to training camp because of a contract impasse. But despite being burned for multiple touchdowns in 13 games and being benched three times in 2013, he finished the season as the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for December.
“He got better because of the work on the practice field and in the classroom,” Ryan said. “So he was taking off from there, and now you don’t want to see this happen. He’s got to step it up because I think he has all the talent in the world.”
This was the first OTA session Milliner has missed and the young cornerback said, aside from this latest setback, he’s felt “great” physically.
Asked about the hamstring injury, he said: “It bothers me cause I say I want to be out there on the field with my teammates and getting better during OTAs. But in another way, it’s fine cause I know I ain’t injured or hurt that bad.”
Milliner – who has already undergone five surgeries – said he’s “most definitely” determined to stay healthy and play a full 16-game schedule. But he’s not sure if he’ll be able to participate in Thursday’s OTA.
“Whatever the trainers tell me to get out there and do. But I’ll feel fine whenever they tell me to get back.”
In other injury news: Ryan said he’s not sure if outside linebacker Antwan Barnes (ACL) will be ready by training camp. …Rookie Dexter McDougle (shoulder surgery) still is participating in a red non-contact jersey. Though the former Maryland cornerback is “itching to go,” Ryan said the training staff is taking things slows.