Kenny Phillips watchers should keep their collective fingers crossed. The safety, almost a year removed from micro-fracture surgery on his left knee, was out there at practice today with the first unit, next to Antrel Rolle and in place of Deon Grant.
One can take from that the idea that Phillips will start Sunday’s season-opener against Carolina. And that could cause a bit of friction in the locker room with Grant, who started and played well all preseason.
"It's been my goal. It was my goal when I first came in here,” Phillips said. “I knew it was going to take some time. I knew we got a schedule that we'd have to keep up with. … For them to already have me listed as a starter, I must be doing something right. I need to go out there and continue to get more reps and work on my technique."
Technique is the least of Phillips’ questions. If he’s going to start, that knee will have to hold up far longer than it did in the last two preseason games, when the staff limited the third-year safety to around 25 snaps in each game. Then, there is the still unanswered question of how long that tricky micro-fracture surgery will hold up over the long run.
But for now, it looks like it’s full-go for Phillips. And that means a demotion to third safety for preseason starter Grant. And that means an end to his 144-game starting streak.
Grant, while supportive of Phillips, is not a happy camper at this point. That’s despite his decision to sign a free agent deal with the Giants with the understanding that he’d move aside as soon as Phillips was physically ready to resume starting duties.
“All I can tell you is I’ll support my man,” Grant said. “I’m going to make sure he’s out there getting the best look he can. But as far as me personally, we’ll see. I’m real. I’m 100 percent a … I can’t say I can give you a genuine answer because I’ve never been in that position. I can sit here and lie to you and make it sound good, but that ain’t me.”