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Kenny Phillips


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Rookie Statement

By Michael Eisen, Giants.com




ALBANY, NY - Like all players jumping from college football to the NFL, Kenny Phillips has had a period of adjustment.


Despite making an impressive debut on Thursday, Kenny Phillips wants to do better


But his is a little different. Unlike most first-year pros, who speak of the increased game speed and the complexity of their playbooks, Phillips sounds as if he’s seeking a challenge.


“I was told by a lot of people that the NFL is easier than college. I think that’s true,” Phillips said today at the University at Albany. “Coming from Miami, all of the veteran guys come back and tell us what to expect. They tell us what made them successful, and what we should look for at the next level.”


The University of Miami does produce its share of top-flight NFL players. Particularly at safety, Phillips' position, where former Hurricanes such as Ed Reed, Brandon Meriweather and the late Sean Taylor have been professional standouts. So what did they and other former Miami players tell Phillips to assist his NFL development?


“Just basically, ‘Football is football,’” Phillips said. “Guys are big and fast, but I’m big and fast, too. Football is the same at every level.”


In his first NFL game action, Phillips demonstrated why the Giants selected him in the first round of this year’s draft. He had a game-high eight tackles (including six unassisted) in the Giants’ 13-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in their preseason opener. Phillips successfully transferred the attributes he has demonstrated in training camp practices to a game setting, including good instincts, exceptional range and an ability to quickly find and get to the ball.


“I think he’s right on the money,” coach Tom Coughlin said of Phillips’ progress. “What he’s been doing in practice, he showed up in the game and did it Thursday night. He’s making good progress.”


Which is exactly what Phillips expected when he arrived here.


“I just wanted to go out and have fun - just go out there and play ball,” Phillips said. “I wanted to see where I was as far as being able to play at this level. I’ve felt pretty good so far.”


His only frustration in practice has been pulling up instead of tackling ballcarriers. Tackling is banned in camp drills, and Phillips considers his skill in that area both an attribute and his favorite part of the game. He likes nothing more than to pursue from the back of the defense and pummel the opposing player holding the ball. Phillips got in a couple of licks early in the third quarter, but his signature play was dropping wide receiver Taye Biddle for a six-yard loss on a reverse.


“It definitely felt good to be able to hit somebody,” Phillips said. “It was hard for me to hold back at practice, but it felt good just to tackle someone. This whole camp, they’ve been telling me to lay off guys. It’s been kind of, I don’t want to say depressing, but not to finish a play, that’s not like me. It felt pretty good to finally be able to let go.”


And what about the high speed of the game that so many NFL newcomers talk about?


“It was actually slowed down,” Phillips said. “I didn’t think that the speed was that different. A lot of guys made my transition easier by telling me what to look forward to. It definitely was a piece of cake for me.”


Phillips' comfort level also stems in part from his understanding of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, which is similar to the system he ran in Miami.


“It’s almost the same thing, but it has different names,” Phillips said. “Once I figured that out, I was okay.”


As good as he’s looked, Phillips knows he has a long way to go.


“I wouldn’t say I’m pleased, because I always want to do better. But for this game, my first preseason game, I think I did okay.”




In watching him play against the Lions, he has a nose for the ball, and is very quick. He's gonna fit in nicely and I like his attitude.

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I'm a little concern about his confidence.


Not only that he needs to remember he wasn't playing the first team or a powerhouse team either. When he lines up to play a good team during the season he will have a different perspective.

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Sounds good so far, but everything tends to sound good in preseason or in training camp. If there was a concern about him in the regular season, it would have to be penalties.


He might get a little overzealous.

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Sounds good so far, but everything tends to sound good in preseason or in training camp. If there was a concern about him in the regular season, it would have to be penalties.


He might get a little overzealous.

In practice, he did seem to bite on some pump-fakes.

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In practice, he did seem to bite on some pump-fakes.


I just watched the Lions game for the first time, and I liked the way he didn't over commit when he was goin after the QB. The QB handed off and he made a nice play behind the line of scrimmage. He's a rook, but he's learnin from the best, Spags.

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I just watched the Lions game for the first time, and I liked the way he didn't over commit when he was goin after the QB. The QB handed off and he made a nice play behind the line of scrimmage. He's a rook, but he's learnin from the best, Spags.


Thats a good point I mean Spags did coach Brian Dawkins, lets hope he can coach Phillips the same way.

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I get the feeling KP is a better athlete and should benefit from a better line in front of him than Dawkins did.


I think their both a push at this time. I mean we have really only seen the kid play in one pre-season game, I'll wait till he has a full season under his belt before we consider him a better athlete. Lets also not forget that at one point in time the Eagles did have a wicked D and their line was nothing to scoff at, heck their D carried them to a Superbowl. But yes at this point in time our line is much better and should help Phillips out in terms of the opposing QB not being able to sit back and pick apart the secondary.


I like his enthusiasm and his confidence that he will succeed and I'm anxious to see what he does during the season.

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Transcript: S Kenny Phillipsrelatedicon.gif



Take this story to go! - icon_rss_11.gif RSS | icon_ipod11.gif Podcast | icon_bberry11.gif Mobile


AUGUST 15, 2008



Do you feel better now than you did on Day 1?


yeah. I mean, coach threw a lot at us as far as the defensive packages

and I picked them up pretty well and the veterans helped me out a lot

with that. I feel like I had a pretty good overall camp.



Who are some of the veterans that really had an influence on you?

Oh, Sam Madison, Corey Webster, just everybody has said something to me, so I�d have to say everyone to be honest with you.



Coaches and players have all had pretty high praise for

you. Coming into this camp, was that something you had anticipated or

have you been surprising yourself a little bit?

I kind of

figured, being the first round draft pick, I know they expected a lot

from me. I think I did alright, I don�t think I let them down too much.



Plaxico Burress had some nice things to say about you today

when he was talking. How do you feel about a guy like that with high

praise for you?

I don�t really know what to say. I guess

I�m doing something right if one of the best receivers in the league

praises me a little bit. I guess I�ll keep doing what I�m doing.



He also said he could beat you in a foot race.

He probably can, I�m going to give him that.



What he said is you are the type of guy he wouldn�t want to go against because you hit so hard. What do you think about that?


one of the biggest things I wanted to come in and do. Basically, earn

the respect of the veterans. I mean, as a rookie, you want to do so

well and those guys, being a first round pick, you know, like oh let�s

see what this guy can do. So, you know, to earn their respect and

their praise is a good feeling.



I�m sure you�re eager to get back out there on Monday.


yeah, they kind of put me back in that cage. I can�t hit nobody, I

can�t do anything and can�t really be physical. Monday night, I�ll be

off the leash again and hopefully I�ll be able to perform well.

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Phillips Takes Guesswork Out at Safety for the Giants



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Published: August 16, 2008


ALBANY — To Kenny Phillips, the Giants’ rookie safety, the series of dig routes was obvious — receivers faked one way, then cut inside, running parallel to the line of scrimmage. And Phillips was all but sure another one was coming.

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Analysis and discussion of the N.F.L. draft and off-season news from around the league.


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He backpedaled as Eli Manning did the same and looked to the right. Sure enough, there was a receiver dropping his shoulder and breaking for the middle. By the time the receiver realized his hands were empty, Phillips was peeling away in the opposite direction, ball tucked away.


Later in that practice session Thursday night, Phillips did it again. Similar play, same sure-handed pick.


“If he had done a pump-and-go and they’d scored, then it would have been on me,” Phillips said Saturday. “I guessed right this time.”


Phillips has guessed right a lot in his football career. As a senior at Carol City High School in Miami, he was rated the top free safety in the country. And at the University of Miami, he became the latest high-caliber safety to roll off the Hurricanes’ conveyor belt.


Now, in his first professional training camp, people are beginning to suspect that Phillips is doing more than guessing.


“Looking at him, I definitely see a special player,” the Giants’ safeties coach, Dave Merritt, said last week. “I truly believe that he is going to be a special one.”

Merritt said that Phillips’s falling to the Giants in the N.F.L. draft was like “an early Christmas present.” They snapped him up with the last pick of the first round, 31st over all.


Even Plaxico Burress, the mercurial wide receiver, could not help but dispense praise for his new teammate and practice opponent.


“You don’t like playing against guys like that,” he said. “They can be in the middle of the field, the quarterback can look him off, throw to the other side of the field, and he’s right there to put his helmet under your chin or pick the football off.”


“There’s only a few guys in the league that can do things like that,” Burress added.


Phillips seems to be the only one holding back from the accolades. Despite slotting in naturally at free safety in the Giants’ preseason game in Detroit last week, he does not yet seem to feel as if he deserves the starting role that Gibril Wilson left vacant when he departed as a free agent.


“I’ve only played in one preseason game, had some good practices in training camp, but I don’t think so,” he said. “I have a long way to go to be a starter. Hopefully, by that first game, I’ll be ready. If you ask me then, I’ll probably give you a different answer.”


The only time Phillips checks his humility, which was instilled in him by a mother who would not let him play football until he was 9, is when he discusses the cruder points of the game — hitting, tackling, hurting.


“The switch comes on,” he said. “I like to be physical. I hate for someone to call me soft or anything. I feel like you’re disrespecting me as a man.”


If an opponent outsmarts the coverage or somehow gets by him, Phillips said, fair enough. “But you’re not just going to run through me or treat me like I’m nothing,” he said.


It is a philosophy he acquired watching tape of former Miami safeties for hours on end. He culls advice from Ed Reed, now with the Baltimore Ravens, on a regular basis.


But none have influenced his rangy, athletic style as much as Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins safety who was killed in November. Although he never met Taylor, Phillips wears No. 21 in his memory — not for the Giants jersey’s most famous recent occupant, Tiki Barber.


“I watched so much film on the guy, just trying to figure out how to make the plays he was making,” Phillips said of Taylor. “I really wanted to be just like him on the field.”


Until he gets back on a competitive field, Phillips will be like a caged lion. In practice he settles for taps on the pads when he would much rather put his helmet down and soak in the familiar crash.


He will have to wait until Monday, when the Giants play their second preseason game, against the Cleveland Browns.


“I can’t hit nobody, I can’t do anything and can’t really be physical,” he said. “Monday night, I’ll be off the leash again.

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