Perry Fewell did not mince words when asked about how much better Kenny Phillips can be this season.
“I’m looking for him to take a quantum leap,” the defensive coordinator said. “After coming off his injury and playing in the 2010 season, as a coach, I will admit that I protected him a little bit. I wanted Kenny to be on the field, I wanted him to play for us. Football is a violent game and I tried to minimize the collisions that he encountered last year. He showed his football intelligence in the two days of camp. He is ready for that bigger role as we have talked about. I am looking for big things.”
Phillips played in 2010 a year after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee. He heard from doctors and players – and undoubtedly us in the media – that a player usually doesn’t fully return to form after such a procedure until the second year. But he tried to buck that rule of thumb..
“It felt pretty good but I wasn’t close to where I thought I would be,” Phillips said. “A lot of guys were telling me it was going to take a year, but I was doing my best to try to prove them wrong. It turns out, they were right. Fortunately, I was able to finish the season. I had a few nicks here and there, but I’m just happy I got through it.”
And now, for the first season ever, the Giants are hoping to get the full Kenny Phillips Treatment. They’ve never really had that. He played sparingly his rookie year and appeared to be on track for stardom his second year before the surgery derailed him early on. Last year he played but was not the playmaker that they drafted. Now, in his fourth season, Phillips is attempting to finally fulfill the promises made on draft day.
“Last year a lot of the times I was in the post most of the whole game and now I’ll probably take on a bigger role as far as getting down in the box and really being a part of the scheme,” Phillips said happily.
He said he knew that last year Fewell kept him away from the fray. “I don’t want to say baby me, but just playing it safe,” he said. Now?
“It’s got to happen,” he said. “It’s time to get more involved in the defense, just do whatever it takes to help this team win.”