There is a corollary that the Jets employ when analyzing a player of Dee Milliner’s pedigree. Health will ensure playing time. Playing time will ensure experience gained. That experience will lead to success. Approaching the seventh game of the season -- Sunday’s pivotal showdown against the division-leading New England Patriots -- Milliner has stumbled in reaching that third proposition. In fact he has barely left the starting blocks. Tightness in Milliner’s left hamstring -- an injury picked up during practice prior to Week 4 -- has caused the Jets’ top draft choice to miss three games. The total is one more than Milliner missed during his three-year career at Alabama and has stunted the development of a player the Jets penciled in as a starter the moment the cornerback arrived at training camp. The name has since been erased from the starting lineup and scribbled somewhere in the margin. “It has worked against him a lot” Dennis Thurman the Jets’ defensive coordinator said of Milliner’s injury. “He is extremely talented. It is a matter of getting him healthy getting him out on the field for practice making sure he stays up to speed in the classroom. But there is no substitute for experience.” Milliner is on the verge of a return from his hamstring injury with Sunday a realistic target after participating in practice this week in a limited capacity. But the tendon tightness marked the most recent setback in a series of injuries since the rookie arrived at Florham Park. More talk has centered on injury updates than success on the field. Offseason surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder caused Milliner to miss the Jets’ offseason workout program. An Achilles injury cost Milliner two valuable preseason games. Once he returned for the start of the regular season the missed snaps translated to unsteady play. Rex Ryan benched Milliner for the second half of the Week 2 game against the Patriots worried about the No. 9 pick’s confidence. “It’s been frustrating at times because I want to be out on the field” Milliner said. “I want to play.” Thurman mentioned that it is not uncommon for a rookie to struggle with injuries. In addition to learning a playbook young players must learn how to take care of their bodies in a more physically strenuous league -- from eating properly to sleeping well lifting weights and keeping hydrated.
Dee Milliner nearing return to field after latest injury setback
Newark Star-Ledger | Oct 17