Written By: Mike Ulatoski
Kenny Phillips knew what people were thinking when the Giants signed Antrel Rolle for $37 million on the first day of free agency. He knew some would take it as a sign that the Giants were worried he’d never make it all the way back. But, Phillips said on Wednesday that his recovery from left knee surgery is right on track. It’s going so well he’ll more than likely be on the field for the start of training camp in July. And once he’s on the field, he and Rolle plan on forming “the best safety tandem in the NFL.”
“The coaches have reassured me they didn’t bring him in to replace me – they made that very clear,” Phillips said. “After the performance we had last year in the secondary, they had to bring someone in. It would be foolish not to. It’ll be a privilege playing next to him.”
That will happen, the third-year pro insisted, even though several orthopedic surgeons have said that the condition in his knee – patellofemoral arthritis – can be career-threatening. Phillips and the Giants have denied that possibility from the moment his season ended after Week 2 this past season. In fact, Phillips recently wrote in his blog, “I feel like I could play tomorrow.” Phillips added that team doctors have continually “assured me I can return and be 100 percent when I do.”
“I feel real good,” Phillips said. “I’m making a lot of progress. The rehab is coming along real well. I should be running soon – probably by the end of this month. As far as they tell me, it’s looking good. The knee is getting stronger.”
The rehab, which Phillips has done mostly from his home in Miami, has been a very long process since he underwent surgery in September, mostly involving weights and exercises to strengthen the knee.
“When it first occurred, I didn’t really know what it was myself,” he said. “But after talking to trainers and doctors, I felt great about it. I already feel myself get stronger and getting back to the form that I had. I feel that I didn’t lose anything, to be honest with you.”
Phillips will likely sit out the “organized team activity” (OTA) sessions in May and June, as well as mini-camp in mid-June. However, he definitely expects to be ready for the start of full-speed practices in late July. He’s so sure, in fact, that he often pictures himself back on the field for the first time since mid-September.
“I kind of picture it all the time,” Phillips said. “From the way my rehab is going I feel I’m definitely not going to lose anything. I can only get better. So I sometimes picture myself making interceptions, making tackles, just making the plays I used to. I just can’t wait.”
It’ll be very exciting no that he and Rolle will be on the same field. Both University of Miami defensive backs can be summed up in one word: playmaker. Phillips and Rolle both have exceptional athleticism, great cover skills, and a nose for the ball.
Phillips, who has known Rolle since he was a senior in high school and Rolle was a senior at Miami, said he helped the Giants recruit Rolle and constantly talked with him as he pondered the Giants’ offer. Rolle was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Wednesday to workout with Phillips.
“It’s going to be a great addition to an already pretty good secondary,” Phillips added. “He’s going to bring so much more to our secondary because of things he can do. He’s basically a playmaker…That’s kind of what we were missing this last year.
“I’m definitely excited. [Rolle] has that Miami swagger. There’s nothing wrong with it. He’s very confident. And tell you the truth, we just have two guys that can go out and get it. Most teams usually have just one dog. For us, we have two of us that can go out make some plays.
Like Rolle said, if they can put in the work, there’s no doubt that they could be the NFL’s best safety tandem.