Playing time is the only cure for rookie troubles and Dee Milliner is learning that the hard way. Milliner will miss the last two preseason games after missing the third game against the Giants due to a calf injury.
"It's very disappointing. I want to be out there on the field," said Milliner. "I want to be out with my teammates out there, doing what they're doing, helping them out. I just want to be out there and get into things before the regular season comes."
That's where the real dilemma hits. The 22-year old rookie hasn't had a chance to play much after missing some of training camp due to recovery from a shoulder injury. The limited playing time was lamented in the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Milliner was caught playing off of wide receivers, a no-no in a defensive scheme that relies on tight coverage.
After that game head coach Rex Ryan and fellow teammate Antonio Cromartie called out his poor play. Cromartie said the team "expected better play" from the rookie and Ryan didn't like the way he "competed". The inability to prove he has learned from the mistakes that plagued him against the Jaguars is not an excuse he is willing to use.
"No, I don't think it has," said Milliner concerning the question of his injury setting him back. "Just to be out there and get more reps, (which) would have helped me but I don't think it put me behind at all. The same way when I first got back."
Milliner is now trying to come back from his calf injury before the start of the season, which he is expected to return for. The team is preventing Milliner from practicing, trying to mitigate his calf tightness from becoming a larger problem.
Even with his struggles Milliner still retains a strong relationship with Cromartie and the rest of the defense. Cromartie has acted as a sort of leader after the departure of Darrelle Revis.
"Everybody on defense is always around each other, always talking, laughing, playing around with each other," said Milliner. "We're a tight group. So everything has been good, it's translated onto the field also. Everyone knows each other, we're trying to be accountable, responsible for everyone."
The chemistry is great but getting healthy will be the biggest priority for Milliner coming into the 2013 season.