FLORHAM PARK: When the Jets announced the three players that would begin training camp on the team’s PUP list, it was seen as a sign of optimism that cornerback Dee Milliner was not among them.
The former first-round pick was healthy enough after his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon to pass the pre-camp physical and conditioning test. In turn, he was, on paper, healthy enough to practice.
But would he? Well, sort of. The former first-round pick took part in individual drills, but sat out the team portion of the Jets first training camp practice on Thursday. In the coming days, that should change.
“He ran well yesterday, and he’s been doing good all summer,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “Within the next two days or so he’ll do a little bit more.”
Getting Milliner back on the field in team drills will be a welcomed sight for a defense that underwent a secondary overhaul this offseason. As an answer for the problems that plagued arguably the league’s worst backend, first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan brought in the likes of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine in free agency.
As a result, Milliner’s role on the Jets defense is suddenly unknown. He’s no longer guaranteed a starting position. Instead, he’s competing against the likes of Darrin Walls, Marcus Williams and Dexter McDougle for the team’s fourth cornerback spot.
But Walls, Williams and McDougle are healthy and on the field. Throughout the Jets offseason, and now first day of camp, Milliner has been sidelined for the reps that truly count. If the cornerback wants to challenge the others for playing time, he’ll need to get on the field. That looks like it could be happen sooner, rather than later.
While Milliner’s return seems imminent, when running back Stevan Ridley sees the field for the first time as a Jet is far more uncertain. The running back is still recovering from a torn ACL and MCL suffered last season as a member of the New England Patriots.
Ridley, who along with Willie Colon and Shane Vickerson comprise the Jets PUP list, has been doing straight-ahead running with trainers since being signed by the Jets in free agency, but has yet to try any football-speed lateral movements.
“We’re not trying to rush him,” Bowles said. “We’ll take it as a process. I would hope (he returns) in a couple of weeks, or just short of a couple of weeks, but I (don’t know) for sure.”
The Jets will hold their second training camp practice, and first open to the public, Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.