Things did not start off well for Jets cornerback Dee Milliner in his rookie season.
Milliner battled injuries during the summer and then got benched more than once early in the year as teams picked on him to positive effect in the passing game. Rex Ryan offered weekly support for the rookie, but the results didn’t get better right away.
They did eventually get better, though. Safety Ed Reed took on a mentorship role with Milliner and the rookie closed the season showing improved play. That culminated in two interceptions and a large hand in a quiet day from wide receiver Mike Wallace in the 20-7 Jets win that knocked the Dolphins out of playoff contention.
Milliner has been named the AFC defensive player of the week as a result, leaving things on a high note that creates a lot more optimism about his future than there was a month ago. If Milliner can build on that, Ryan’s praise of Milliner when he was struggling will seem a lot less hyperbolic than some other things Ryan’s said over the years.