Reporting Daryl Ruiter
INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner will play with pain for a few more days.
Milliner, who is a candidate for the Browns at No. 6 in April, held off surgery to repair a torn labrum until after the combine so that he could show teams what he can do.
“I do feel that I’m the best DB in this, no offense to the other DBs,” Milliner said. “I believe in what I can do and the plays that I can make.”
Surgery is scheduled for March 12 and Milliner said that he’ll need 2 months to recover.
“Once I have surgery on it, I’ll be back to 100 percent back to the normal player that I am,” Milliner said.
He sustained the injury in November against Texas A&M but finished out the season and helped the Crimson Tide repeat as national champions.
As he spends the next few days interviewing with teams – including the Browns – he remains focused on impressing them on the field on Tuesday when defensive backs work out as well.
He will participate in every drill except the bench press before leaving Indianapolis and he’s hoping that his toughness will be noticed by those doing the picking in April.
It’s what makes him so good.
“My mentality as a football player,” Milliner responded when asked what separates him from the pack. “My toughness, the physical play that I play with is just different from some cornerbacks in today’s league.”
The injury however could hurt his stock.
“I hope it doesn’t,” Milliner said. “You get hurt but I know [if I] have surgery and I know I’ll be back to normal making plays.
“That’s why I wanted to come to the combine and do this just to show that I can still move around and do stuff whether my arm is hurt or not.”
Former Browns general manager Phil Savage, who now runs the Senior Bowl, feels that Milliner could be a star provided he has help on the other side of the secondary.
“He fits all the height, weight, speed prototypes,” Savage said. “I think he could be a good pro absolutely. If he’s paired off with another good corner he has a better chance.
“I like Dee. He’s competitive, he tackles and he can play the ball in the air.”
The Browns already have that other corner in Joe Haden.
Milliner, who is a big fan of Deion Sanders, first omitted Haden’s name when asked which pro corners he admires but did a good job covering himself when it was pointed out to him.
“I didn’t want to go through the whole list,” Milliner said. “Joe Haden is a great player also. He makes plays and I also watched him when he was at Florida.”
Milliner will have to adjust his aggressive playing style at the next level. He won’t be able to get away with as much contact against receivers in the NFL as he could in college – and he knows it.
“You got to watch yourself and what you’re doing nowadays in the league because if you hit or lead with the wrong thing you’re going to get ready to give some cash up for a fine,” Milliner said. “I don’t think it’ll change my mentality as a player. It’s a physical game. You just have to know what you’re doing and just watch yourself when you’re trying to make plays on the ball.”