'Patient' Kenny Phillips being careful with knee

'Patient' Kenny Phillips being careful with knee
June 6, 2013, 9:15 am
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The Eagles signed safety Kenny Phillips to a one-year, $2 million deal back in March. (USA Today Images)

Kenny Phillips is fighting a battle every day. A battle inside his mind between caution and competitiveness.

The veteran safety desperately wants to participate in all the minicamp practices with his new team. He also knows it’s a bit more important to be out there in September than in June.

So there are days he reluctantly stays in the trainer’s room rehabbing his surgically rebuilt left knee instead of practicing.

Even though it drives him crazy.

“It’s real tough, real tough,” he said. “Especially coming to a new team. You can’t just sit out. You want to get out there and make your mark. You want to learn the system. You want to learn the players and have them learn you.

“But at the same time, you also have to be smart. OTAs and minicamps are important, but the season’s more important, so why go out there and be an All-America now and the season comes and I’m a [piece of garbage]. I definitely have to avoid that. So just have to be real smart, and the coaches are being real understanding, they’re trusting me, and I think it’s going to work out.”

The Eagles signed Phillips to a one-year, $2 million contract in March, hopeful that he can both stay healthy and provide the type of production and consistency the Eagles haven’t had at strong safety since they cut ties with Quintin Mikell after the 2010 season.

When Phillips was absent from a recent OTA practice, questions about his arthritis-racked knee immediately arose. Where was he? Was he hurt again?

Turns out it was just Phillips being careful. Something that doesn’t come easy for him.

“It’s just being patient,” he said. “It’s been tougher here more than ever before, [being with a] new team, and you want to go out there and show these guys why they brought you here, what type of player you are.”

Phillips, a former first-round pick out of Miami, spent five years with the Giants and was a starter on the 2011 Super Bowl team but had his 2009 and 2012 seasons curtailed by knee injuries and has had to deal with knee issues for most of his career.

So he’s used to that tricky balancing act between wanting to be out there with his teammates and needing to give himself time to get healthy.

“It’s really just basically almost a guessing game, to be honest with you,” he said. “The last few seasons, I dealt with the same thing. Since my surgery, I’ve been told I’d have to deal with it throughout my career, and the Giants understood it. They knew there were steps I had to take to be ready when it mattered. And it’s been the same thing here.

“They trust me to I know exactly what it takes for me to play at a high level, and everybody’s trusting me to do the right thing.”

Easier said than done.

Because now, Phillips isn’t just trying to get healthy, he’s trying to prove himself for the first time in his career to new teammates and a new coaching staff.

“You want to go out there and show everybody you can make plays on this level, so it’s been tough. But I have put some good things on film, and they’re trying to be smart, and I’m trying to be smart too.”

Phillips had four interceptions and 63 tackles in 2011, his last full season.

When healthy – you know the routine … when healthy, he’s a very good safety. Getting healthy has been a problem. But Phillips, who hasn’t missed a day of practice since last Tuesday, said he’s encouraged by how his knees feel with two practices to go before a six-week break leading into training camp.

“I’m definitely where I want to be,” he said. [Missing practice], it wasn’t anything serious. My knee wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God.’ I was just trying to be smart. Gotta be smart. Usually this time of year the process is real slow but once training camp comes around, I’m good to go.

“I’m definitely on track. When season starts, I’m full go. Just have to monitor my reps. But as far as taking days off, nah. I’ve got a month and a half to do exactly what I need to do. I feel great. Last two years it’s worked for me, so I’m not worried at all.”

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