Rookie Focus: Phillips adding new vigor to Giants' secondary
By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
The New York Giants' Kenny Phillips is not afraid to aim high. He chose uniform number 21 with the hope of emulating the on-field accomplishments of late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.
"I respected the way he played," Phillips says, "and I respected him as a person." Taylor was shot to death last November during a break-in at his Miami-Dade home.
POWER RANKINGS: Giants steady at No. 2
Phillips is wearing Taylor's number well. The 31st overall pick has been a steady contributor for the defending Super Bowl champions, who are riding high at 7-1 after a 35-14 pounding of the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. And his first career interception was a big one, helping the Giants to a 21-14 victory in Pittsburgh in Week 8.
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• Hometown: Miami
• Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 197
• College highlights: Made 33 starts in three seasons at Miami. His 203 tackles included 133 solo shots and 15 stops for losses. He also made one fumble recovery and forced three fumbles to go with seven interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Fourth Hurricanes safety drafted in the opening round this decade, following Ed Reed, Taylor and Brandon Meriweather.
• Scouting report: Looks to have everything necessary to develop into top-level safety. Covers a great deal of ground. Relishes opportunity to level ballcarriers with huge hits. Coaches had to constantly remind him during training camp to refrain from taking shots at teammates. Willing to do whatever is needed to stuff the run.
• Quotable: "He makes his share of mistakes, but we never complain about guys who play fast and make mistakes and Kenny does that. He plays fast and he's been making some big plays and hopefully he continues to do that." —Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
• I knew I was in the NFL: "The first game of the season (against Washington), when we ran out of the tunnel and hearing the crowd screaming and seeing the guys all excited. I said to myself, 'This is what I've been waiting for.' "
• Biggest adjustment: "Learning the scheme defensively. There is a lot of detail I need to get down."
• Best advice: "A lot of guys in the secondary have been telling me, 'It's a long season. Get your massages. Eat right. Take care of your body.' "
• First purchase after signing: "I bought my mother (Taranda Wilson) a black Mercedes Benz for her birthday. She was shocked."
• Role model: "Ed Reed is one of the guys I really admire. I watched him at Miami and with me going to Miami, I keep in touch with him. I can call him up and ask him about anything and he'll have the perfect answer."
• Favorite off-field activity: "Bowling. I'm not really good, but I'm working on it. My high score is 140- or 150-something."
• Can Giants repeat? "I definitely think so. Even though the guys have one ring, I can tell they are still hungry for another one. I'm going to do my best to help them get it."
• NFL dream: "Ten interceptions, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl."