NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The great experiment of using a converted safety as a starting cornerback looks like it will continue for at least the first week of the regular season.
Once the Jets lost former first-round draft pick Dee Milliner and 2014 third-round selection Dexter McDougle to injuries early in training camp it became readily apparent that they were going to have to do something to fix a corner unit that many feel was largely ignored by general manager John Idzik during the offseason.
And while it’s true the Jets either failed to sign or, in some cases, chose not to pursue many of the top names on the market, despite having a ton of salary cap space to do so, they were confident that at least Milliner, who finally turned it on late last season, would be ready to lead by example. The season-ending knee injury suffered by McDougle was a setback but wasn’t supposed to be the end of the world.
Fast forward a few weeks and Milliner (high ankle sprain) is iffy at best for Sunday’s regular season opener against the visiting Oakland Raiders and the Jets have been playing musical roster moves to find some kind of a reliable combination.
Antonio Allen could be the answer. As a safety last season, Allen took some steps forward, but was eventually forced to play second fiddle to veteran Ed Reed, who was signed in-season as a free agent. Allen, who is in his third season out of South Carolina, entered training camp in a battle with veteran Dawan Landry and first-round pick Calvin Pryor. The Jets must really like both because once defensive backs started dropping like flies, head coach Rex Ryan didn’t hesitate to convert Allen.
But just as Allen was beginning to make some strides in his crash course, he suffered a concussion against the Giants during the third preseason game.
On Tuesday he told reporters he had been cleared to play and will start for the Jets against the Raiders.
Who will start opposite Allen remains to be seen but smart money should be on veteran Darrin Walls, provided Milliner doesn’t pull a Willis Reed on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Walls has ability, but is very inexperienced. That said, though, with veteran Ellis Lankster recently released, veteran Kyle Wilson likely to be used in the nickel and newcomers Leon McFadden and Philip Adams nowhere near up to speed, Walls should find himself matched up against the Raiders’ James Jones, Rod Streater or Denarius Moore.
The Raiders announced on Monday that rookie Derek Carr would start at quarterback against the Jets.
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