Instead of comedy of errors, it was a calamity of injuries for the New York Jets today. In a span of thirty minutes, the Jets lost their top two corners to injuries. Dee Millner went down with an ankle injury that is threatening his availability for week 1, while Dexter McDougle suffered a torn ACL. Meanwhile, the oft-injured Dimitri Patterson is, you guessed it, sidelined with a variety of minor injuries.
Coaches in the NFL have always abided by the philosophy “next man up”. Well, Rex Ryan nominated Antonio Allen as his “next man” to fill the top corner position. Though, with his second corner position still in limbo, Darrin Walls is stating his case. Walls was strictly used in sub packages last season for Gang Green, but says he is ready to accept this new challenge.
“I’m feeling pretty good going into my fourth season. I feel like I’m starting to become the player I want to be. I think I’m finally getting the confidence that I know I have to have to play the corner position. I mean, it’s a tough position, probably one of the toughest positions on the football field, so I feel like now I’m starting to get that confidence and develop to be a pretty good corner in the NFL.”
Rex Ryan notes that despite his deficiencies, Walls has a knack for making plays.
“I wish Darrin could catch the ball a little better,” Ryan said Sunday. “He seems to lead the league in PBUs [pass breakups], so that’s something he's working on, even after practice with Eric Smith [former Jets safety turned coaching intern]. Part of it, he does good and gets in position. Now to be a great one, you've got to be able to make those plays. I know he wants to be as good as he can be and he’s working hard at that.”
Walls echoes that sentiment, saying he believes the positives from last season can and will translate to this one.
“I feel like last year I’d done a lot of good things and I did a lot of things that hindered me a little bit, but I feel like this could be a good year for me,” the Notre Dame alum said. “Every year I feel like I have gotten better and I found something to get better at. This year is just catching the ball."
As for the person he may replace, Walls says McDougle is upbeat and hopes he improves and learns from his experience.
“Oh, yeah, he’s definitely in good spirits. I feel like he knows what’s ahead of him. He knows that his rehab process is going to be tough. He’s a positive kid himself, he knows he has to go through this," Walls said. "He’s going through some adversity and I told him I’ve gone through some things in my life and you've got to come out stronger and I think he realizes that.”
Walls says no matter who plays, it is vital for the team to continue improving.
"But we've got to move on. We have to keep going and keep getting better every day. We can't get back into 'I wish we had this' or 'I wish we had that' with him and Dee [Milliner] out. We need to be positive about it and make the best of the situation.”
Walls hopes that “next man up” stops with him.