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With Revis still unsigned, Miller trying to make most of opportunity

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Justin Miller bounced around on the sidelines to the beats that blared out of the loudspeakers and waited for his turn to take the practice field with the New York Jets' first-teamers.

The free-spirited Miller is staying loose and confident in training camp while trying to win the starting job at right cornerback.

"Ultimately, that's the decision of the coaches," Miller said after the first of two practices Thursday. "So each day, I just want to come out here and practice and compete and prove to my teammates that I belong out here and that I deserve to play with them."

When the Jets traded up in the draft and selected Darrelle Revis, it was generally thought the first-round pick would step in at right cornerback. That could still eventually happen, but Revis, the No. 14 overall pick, remains unsigned. Meanwhile, Miller is making a case to be the starter.

"Justin is having a very good camp and I like his consistency," coach Eric Mangini said. "He's been very physical at the line of scrimmage, and that's a strength of his. He's a naturally strong guy. When he gets his hands on people, it makes it hard to get off the line of scrimmage. He's got that awareness now of how much he can disrupt those routes. He's been doing a good job of incorporating that as part of his toolbox."

Miller hasn't necessarily been outstanding in drills, but he has had his moments while working with the first team. He, David Barrett, Hank Poteat and Drew Coleman took turns at the job last season.

"We're all given opportunities, and the best thing for us to do is take advantage of them when they're given," he said. "I just want to go out here and work and get better. As soon as Darrelle gets here, he'll help this team as well as anybody else. We drafted him high and we know he can play. I think he'll help us."

That was the thought in 2005 when the Jets drafted Miller in the second round. He came to New York with a reputation for being a playmaking cornerback and a game-changing kick returner.

He's lived up to the hype on special teams, making the AFC Pro Bowl team last season as a returner. Miller's play in the secondary has been another story. He has often struggled in coverage, has no interceptions in 32 regular-season games and lost the starting job three weeks into last season.

"It's not only what the media says, it's the guys around me," Miller said. "No one's going to settle for mediocrity."

Another strike against Miller was his arrest in May after an early morning fight at a New York club. He was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and apologized publicly in minicamp for the embarrassing incident.

"We all have bad days and we all have days where things aren't going to go our way, where we're depressed or upset," Miller said. "I think football takes us away from those things. It helps us deal with life as a whole because you have guys around you that pick you up when you're down and they help you press forward."

Miller credits his improvement at cornerback to offseason conversations he had with secondary coach Mike MacIntyre and assistant secondary coach Jerome Henderson, a former NFL defensive back who is also the Jets' director of player development.

"Me and Jerome, we've talked and we've met," he said. "Even with Coach MacIntyre, he's come in and we sit around and he'll ask me questions like, 'How do you feel with this?' or 'How do you feel with that?' It's just a matter of going out there and practicing and putting those things into work every day."

While Andre Dyson is expected to start at left cornerback, as he did last season, Miller and Barrett are the front-runners on the right side - while Revis enters his second week away.

"The important thing is to be here and working hard and learning as much as you can," Mangini said. "Each day that you're not here, somebody gets your reps, somebody gets your learning."

And Revis' loss has been Miller's gain, so far.

"I'm going to go out there and do my job whenever called upon," he said. "If I'm called upon to play corner, I'm going to do that. If I'm called upon to be a returner, I'm going to do that. Whichever way is going to help this team, I'm going to go out there and do it."

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