Dee Milliner knew this season wouldn’t be easy.
But the rookie had no idea just how difficult the transition from college star to NFL neophyte would be.
“You’re going through a lot your rookie year, especially me,” Milliner said with a smile, during an interview with Newsday just days before the Jets’ season finale in Miami. “I went through a lot of troubles and rough times here and there. But you can show a lot of growth (in Year 2).”
Well, the cornerback began to show growth over the course of his rookie season, and capped the year by being named the AFC’s defensive player of the week. Milliner recorded four tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed in the Jets’ 20-7 win at Miami. He is only the second Jets rookie to win defensive player of the week honors since 1984 (Russell Carter, Week 15).
After an offseason shortened by shoulder surgery and a contract impasse heading into training camp, Milliner had a disastrous start to the season. He was picked on often by opponents and wound up being benched three times this season. But the former Alabama star hit his stride by season end.
Milliner registered three interceptions in December, tied for the most in the AFC for the month.