Milliner overcomes shaky start, closes strong

Dee Milliner is no stranger to playing in big games having played in two National Championship games while at Alabama before the New York Jets drafted him in April. In front of almost 77,000 screaming fans at MetLife Stadium, it was no surprise that Milliner's nerves were running high. The Jets' rookie cornerback had a very solid performance in his pro debut.

In the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jets' fans got to see their first round draft pick in action for the full contest. Milliner, who was matched up with former Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson for most of the game, had a fairly good showing in his first NFL start.

"First to start off they got a couple plays there on me but after that players came to me and told me to just be me, just go out there and make plays and I tried to finish strong," noted Milliner.

Even though he made some mistakes early in the game, he turned it around and adjusted as the game wore on. Milliner's strong second half swas overshadowed by the struggles that he had at times, specifically against the quick slant and post routes. The Jets' rookie cornerback went into the game expecting quick throws, as well as very physical play coming from the Buccaneers receivers:

"We knew there was going to be physical, aggressive receivers," said Milliner. "We got the idea, they go out there, they get the ball, they attack it and that's what they did in the game."

With great size and stature for a corner, Milliner stands at 6-foot-1, 200 lbs., and handled the physicality of Tampa's big receivers reasonably well but only tallied 2 tackles on the day.

The Bucs were firing at Milliner for the majority of the game but he held up strong. Eventually, Josh Freeman found a hole in the defense and threw to Mike Williams, who was covered by Milliner, for a 17-yard touchdown. After the game, the rookie reflected back on the play, giving credit to Freeman for perfectly placing the ball.

"It was just a good throw. He threw it in a perfect spot, a good hole for Mike to make the catch," noted Milliner. "He just ran a little post. He got in front of me and then he threw it in the hole."

Even though he gave up one touchdown, Milliner had a solid performance and showed why he was an early first round draft pick.

The Jets take on the New England Patriots this Thursday night in Foxborough. With Tom Brady at the helm for New England, expect them to target New York's rookie, Milliner, for the majority of the game. With a strong outing on Sunday, the former Alabama standout will have to back it up with another solid performance against the Pats this week in order for Gang Green to shock its divisional rivals.

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