CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot issues from New York Jets training camp:
This is how a longtime AFC personnel director responded Monday when told the Jets had moved safety Antonio Allen to cornerback: "Wow." Yeah, it's a surprise alright, but the Jets are desperate after losing Dee Milliner (ankle) for a few weeks and Dexter McDougle (knee) for the rest of the season. The Jets believe Allen has some cornerback traits in his skill set -- they like his 6-foot-1 frame and aggressive attitude -- but this is a Hail Mary. If they like his potential so much, why didn't they try this sooner? This smacks of GM John Idzik, a former Seattle Seahawks executive, trying to copycat the size of the Seattle corners. Naturally, Rex Ryan did a nice job of selling it, saying Allen has progressed "a million miles" since they drafted him in the seventh round in 2012. Allen showed last season he can cover athletic tight ends in man-to-man situation, but it's a different world on the boundary, facing receivers that run sub-4.4s in the 40. Gut feeling: The Allen experiment doesn't work out and they sign a veteran.
Allen lit up the practice field in his first day at cornerback, making two interceptions in team drills. He wasn't available afterward to talk about the move to corner, leaving us to wonder about his feelings. He was making nice strides at safety, working with the first team alongside Dawan Landry. This could stunt his progress -- if the corneback move is aborted at some point. Somehow, I don't think Allen's comments will be as candid as those of Roger Duffy in 1996. Because of injuries, Duffy, an interior lineman, was shifted to tackle for the season opener. Asked his immediate reaction to Rich Kotite's decision, the usually reserved Duffy said he was "stunned and amazed."
Milliner made an appearance on the practice field, wearing a walking boot on his left foot. He rode the stationary bike, and that was about it. Afterward, he walked gingerly to the interview tent, appearing as if he's still experiencing discomfort. He acknowledged he was "in a lot of pain" at the time of the injury. An X-ray was negative, he said, adding they still can't diagnose the nature of the sprain because it's still too swollen to take an MRI. He said he has no timetable for a return, admitting he's not sure if he'll be back for the season opener. He said: "You don't want to get out there and rush things and mess it up even more, or get out there and you're not 100 percent and give up plays." This is a tough blow for Milliner, who was having a very good camp. He was limited last preseason due to injuries, and it took him a while to catch up.
Sitting at breakfast at the local hotel, I was approached by a Jets fan, who asked simply, "Do we have a problem?" Naturally, he was referring to the cornerback situation, not the quality of the coffee.