Last season, the Eagles safety unit faced plenty of adversity. Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, David Sims, and Colt Anderson all started games with limited success. That is why the Eagles brought in a pair of veteran free agents and a rookie to compete with the tenured members of the group. One of the veteran free agents, Kenny Phillips, is an addition that has been met with both concern and intrigue by Eagles fans.
The University of Miami alum was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft and has been a starter in the league. Phillips played the last five years for the New York Giants, spending almost as much time on the field as on the sideline, nursing his problematic left knee. When he has been healthy, Phillips has been star on defense. However, he has missed 21 games over the last four seasons, which makes him a question mark for an Eagles safety unit that is searching for answers.
Phillips met with reporters this week and was asked about his current bill of health. "My knee is good," said Phillips. "The MRI showed that it healed up nice, so right now I am just taking it one day at a time."
Despite the good news regarding his knee, Phillips notes that the training staff is being patient with the free agent acquisition. "They are definitely letting me take my time," said the Miami native. "They are just monitoring me right now, so I can be good when it really counts, during training camp and in the preseason."
Since Phillips is not facing added pressure from Chip Kelly, the coaches have him working with the second-team defense. While he understands that he can improve his stock as the offseason moves forward, Phillips is still getting use to not being a starter. "It's a lot different (not being a starter) right now (because) I am not with the first group, but I am still getting as many reps as those guys," said Phillips. "So basically its just about going out there, making plays and showing the coaches that I'm a starter."
Another storyline surrounding Phillips is that he goes from "bad guy" to "good guy" in Philadelphia, after defecting from the Giants. The narrative is familiar for the Eagles with Steve Smith joining the team in 2011, but it has taken time for Phillips to get use to. "It's weird being rivals for so long, but now we're friends," said the former Giant. "I am enjoying (being an Eagle) so far."
According to Phillips, current Giant safety Antrel Rolle spoke very highly of new Eagles defensive coordinator, Billy Davis, who coached him in Arizona. The veteran believes Davis will put him in a position to be successful. "I am going to get a chance to show I can make plays," said Phillips. "I like the opportunity I am getting with the defense and I feel like it will be a big year (for me)."
For the Eagles, getting a "big year" out of Phillips would be a major plus for the defense. If all goes well and his knee holds up, Phillips could be with the team for a while, because he plans on playing for a long time. The Eagles will now have to hope the slow approach will get Phillip ready for the preseason and he can take advantage of being eased into the new defense.