When your coach puts you in the spotlight, make sure you respond to it on the field. Such is the case in what New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan recently said to cornerback Dee Milliner in regards to his recent hamstring issue during OTAs a few days ago. It’s nothing severe of course, but he sat out for precautionary reasons since he didn’t want to risk anything. At the end of the day, missed time means more work ahead.
Ryan made it known while he agrees that Milliner should have taken the right steps to prevent a serious injury, much of what the Jets’ season rides on is his ability to be extraordinary on defense. Milliner missing important preparation time won’t make him reach his true potential going into his sophomore year when it really matters most.
Expressing his displeasure, Ryan made it known to the media in a recent press conference that he expects Milliner to be in top shape and ready to put in the work to achieve results. He’s completely right because even though Milliner ended last season on a high note, for much of last year he wasn’t much of a factor on defense. He looked confused most of the time and it showed as he kept getting burned in the secondary. Now with a year of experience under his belt, that safety net of chalking his errors up to rookie mistakes is gone.
Being told to step up your game is a great motivator, especially when it comes from your head coach. Milliner experienced similar hamstring issues last season, and because of that he ended up missing three games which hindered his progression. Ryan believes that if he truly understands what he is capable of defensively, he has all the talent in the world to be a true shutdown cornerback the likes of which Jets’ fans haven’t seen since Darrelle Revis; but it won’t happen if he’s sitting out all the time for preventative reasons.
Milliner should chalk this up as a lesson learned. You have to prepare for the worst and expect the best, especially when it comes to taking care of your body in preventing injuries. It’s all about working smarter, not harder. Time spent on the field and in the classroom learning everything and anything about being the best cornerback in football is what will continue his development.
Perhaps this will motivate Milliner to not overexert himself when it doesn’t really mean anything during OTAs. Save everything you have for when it matters most, especially when your own head coach tells you to step up your game.