The team's top cornerback returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in a month after a high ankle sprain kept him sidelined since Aug. 10.
Milliner was a limited participant, and his status for the Jets' game at Green Bay on Sunday is uncertain. But it was a promising development for Milliner, who injured his left ankle during training camp.
"I feel great," Milliner said. "I feel good. I did some things the other day and moved around a lot."
Rex Ryan said a big test to gauge whether Milliner might be able to play this weekend is how the ankle feels Thursday. Milliner worked in team drills, and participated in individual drills with the defensive backs.
"Let's see how he comes back," Ryan said. "(Green Bay) had 75 snaps on offense, and I don't expect Dee to play 75 snaps on defense. But we'll see how he progresses.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll be able to go."
That means the Jets could have their main cover guy against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' potent offense — even if he's not on the field the entire game.
"Look around, if he can play in a limited role, let's play him in a limited role," Ryan said. "That's how I see it. In his case, I don't believe the injury can get worse. It's pain, it's a lot of different things, but he's healed. I think it's just now working through some soreness and everything else, mental things."
The Jets started safety Antonio Allen and backup Darrin Walls at cornerback in the 19-14 season-opening win over Oakland last Sunday. Both Allen and Walls were solid, particularly with open-field tackles, but the return of Milliner — who proclaimed during camp that he believes he's the NFL's top cornerback — would be a huge boost to Ryan's secondary.
New York has been thin at the cornerback spot since Milliner was injured, rookie Dexter McDougle was lost for the season with a knee injury and veteran Dimitri Patterson, an expected starter, was released after the Jets said he left the team before a preseason game and didn't speak to anyone in the organization for 48 hours. The Jets have been scrambling to find depth since, and hoping for Milliner to return sooner rather than later.
"I'm very optimistic," Milliner said. "Just have to get out there and do what they tell me to do, just keep working. Basically, just do what they tell me to do, and if I feel good, I'll be out there."