FLORHAM PARK, New Jersey — Dee Milliner is getting closer to making his season debut for the New York Jets.
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 still 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."
Right guard Willie Colon (calf) and rookie linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali (foot) were limited at practice. Colon isn't concerned about his injury and doesn't think it'll be an issue Sunday, while Enemkpali missed the opener.
Safety Josh Bush (quadriceps), linebacker A.J. Edds (hamstring) and tight end Jeff Cumberland (personal reasons) did not practice.
NOTES: The Jets drafted S Calvin Pryor with the No. 18 overall pick in May, choosing him over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, considered by some to be the top safety available. Clinton-Dix ended up being drafted by the Packers three spots after Pryor. "Both guys were excellent players," Ryan said during a conference call with Packers reporters. "We would have been happy with either guy. But I took the guy who will knock your face in." ... QB Geno Smith on the Ray Rice situation: "The NFL's made a decision and the Ravens have made their decision. I have met Ray and, personally, I think he's a good dude. I think he made a mistake, and in a time like that, you just have to let the powers that be do their job, and they have." ... Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on his team's last meeting with the Jets, a 9-0 win for Green Bay in 2010: "We had a great game. We scored nine points, they scored zero. So, it was a barn burner."
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