The Jets gave first-round pick Dee Milliner a starting job from the moment he walked in the door.
Then they took it away from him, because they’re hoping he is able to get it back and keep it for the long haul.
Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman admitted they were afraid the Patriots were going to target the rookie cornerback before he was pulled last Thursday, and that there were concerns about what that would do to his confidence.
“With Dee, it wasn’t that we were unhappy with what we were seeing. It’s just that the situation for us called for, OK, they’re getting ready to take some shots at this kid,” Thurman said, via Michael Fensom of the Newark Star-Ledger. “Rather than have him in a situation where he can get himself deflated, we decided to make the move and get a more experienced guy in there. And we did. We felt like it was the right thing to do.
“We’re not down on him at all. He’s got a chance to be a hell of a football player. And we don’t want a rookie to go out there and get shell-shocked and not be able to come back. And we were concerned about that.”
The Jets may have made that mistake in the past with Kyle Wilson, who was thrown into the deep end while he was still learning to dog-paddle in the NFL.
“You learn from your experiences, Thurman said. “Young corners, young nickels, when they’re out there they become big targets. And you get an experienced offensive coordinator, like they have in New England, with an experienced quarterback, they’re not dumb. They’re looking to score points.
“In any situation like that, you expect a guy to go out and perform, but if you see an opportunity to make sure his confidence doesn’t get shattered and he’s gotta fight back — if we can ward that off we’re gonna do that.”
Now the responsibility is on Milliner learning and growing from it. They’re going to continue to use him, even if he’s not starting. But at some point, the training wheels have to come off.