When the New York Giants walked out onto the practice field this morning, head coach Tom Coughlin told Kenny Phillips to work with the first team. The safety is officially back in his starting spot. Phillips had been working his way back from knee surgery last September.
The fan favorite safety felt like he had gotten himself back to form after the teams third presseason game, against the Ravens. He showed that off in the final preseason contest when he was able to cover a lot of ground while delivering some solid hits on the New England Patriots. His knees responded well.
If all goes well this week in practice, Phillips will line up as a starting safety on Sunday alongside Antrel Rolle. The tandem could become on the the leagues best saftey combo’s.
Is everyone happy about Phillips getting his starting spot back? That is yet to be determined. Deon Grant, a veteran safety the Giants acquired this offseason had been in the starting spot all through training camp and the preseason. Grant knew the situation when he signed with the Giants and does support Phillips, but he did admit he might not handle being a backup very well.
“On this level, it’s about establishing yourself, winning that ring and any personal goals you have,” Grant said. “My goal was to come into the league and to play and to start, and to start, and to start until it gets to the point where I can’t start anymore. I’ve been doing that up to this point. If it doesn’t happen, yeah, it’s going to be hard to swallow.”
Sound a little bitter? You have to realize what Grant is trying to say. Every player wants to start. However, you never really want a player saying things like “personal goals” and saying it will be “hard to swallow” if he doesn’t start.
Grant has started 144 consecutive regular season games. That streak appears to be coming to an end on Sunday when the Giants take on the Carolina Panthers.
If Grant, a 10 year veteran in the league, can suck it up and be a team player, the Giants secondary could turn into one of the best in the NFL. With Rolle, Phillips, and Grant, the Giants have three excellent safeties. All three will see plenty of playing time. A position controversy could cause problems with team chemistry. Problems with team chemistry cause losing.
The Giants need Grant to be at his best. To play hard. It doesn’t matter if he is in the starting lineup or comes off the sidelines, Grant is an important piece of the Giants defensive rotation.