Perry Fewell said there's a term for the way Kenny Phillips is playing this season – "Balling."
That's the same defensive coordinator who also said at the start of training camp that he expected Phillips to take a "quantum leap" this season. The safety, now in his second campaign back from knee surgery, has been doing exactly that three games into the year.
Phillips is currently second on the team with 22 total tackles (one behind Antrel Rolle), tied for second in the NFL with five passes defended (Aaron Ross is tied for first with six), has forced a fumble, and has one of the Giants' three interceptions.
"I'm just playing football," Phillips said on Friday. "I'm just enjoying it, to tell you the truth."
Phillips is really enjoying being around the ball more often.
Coaches brought him along slowly last season following his injury-shortened season, but have since expanded his duties. Instead of being confined to the post where there was limited contact, Phillips is now mixing it up in the box and covering tight ends.
"All the little nicks and bruises I had last year are nonexistent this year," Phillips said. "Plus, this year they've kind of got me playing a bigger role. Last year, they kind of kept me in the post a lot just to protect me from my injury or whatever. But this year they kind of got me in the box, around doing different things. So I think that's helping a lot also."
Fellow safety and 12-year-vet Deon Grant, who joined the team prior to last season, understood why they pulled in the reins on Phillips fresh off the rehab.
"First of all, he's young," Grant said. "So when you're young, you don't know how to play through things on this particular level. That was his first injury since he's been in the NFL. When you're injured, you're just trying to figure it out. I went through the same thing. He was just trying to figure it out last year. He did a decent job as far as feeling it out. The good thing is he had the type of guys on this team around him to help him out and let him feel it out."
This year, however, is another story. Grant is seeing the flashes of the "Miami boy" that the organization acquired in 2008.
"He feels a lot more comfortable," Grant said. "The chemistry is there. So he's playing like the Kenny that they drafted."