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Kenny Phillips Gets Back on the Football Field

Safety hasn't played since second week of 2009

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    There was some big football news out of Albany on Monday.

    No, we're not talking about Brandon Jacobs's new t-shirt championing the nascent "Free Plaxico" movement -- Jacobs showed up to his first training camp discussion with reporters sporting a new top that reads "Free 17 Let Him Ball Out." Until he's actually granted an early release from prison, we'll consider this a fashion story and not a real attempt by current members of the Giants to get Burress back on the team.

    The big news is that Kenny Phillips was back on the practice field on Monday for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery last September. Phillips was diagnosed with the knee injury following a two interception night in the Week Two victory against the Cowboys. The defensive breakdown that became the epitaph for the 2009 season didn't begin the moment that Phillips left but they followed in short order and it wasn't hard to notice that the team didn't have any other decent safeties on the roster.

    That's not the case this season. They signed Antrel Rolle to fill one starting spot and Deon Grant would be a fine complement to Rolle in the starting lineup. Grant's experience and durability, he's started all 144 NFL games, would be assets even if the Giants knew Phillips would be able to play all 16 games.

    We're still a ways off from knowing if he's capable of doing that this season. He only took part in 12 snaps Monday morning, won't practice on Monday evening and has already been ruled out of the preseason opener against the Jets. It's the sensible route to take, obviously, but the Giants have to be champing at the bit to see what Phillips can do without any restrictions.

    Phillips was blossoming into a star before the injury and would be a perfect fit for the more aggressive defense that the Giants plan to utilize this season. He might not be that player anymore but the least the Giants could hope for is a chance to find out sooner rather than later. It looks like they'll get that chance.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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