Three weeks ago, Kenny Phillips declared that his injured knee had healed well enough for him to return to the field. Turns out it had not, and Phillips missed the Giants' home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fifth-year pro was also sidelined the following week when the Giants played in Cincinnati.
Now the Giants are coming off their bye and will host the Green Bay Packers Sunday night in a battle of division leaders and the last two Super Bowl champions. Phillips, who has not played since September 30 at Philadelphia, believes this is the finally the week he will play.
Phillips today said "I did everything" in practice, though he was officially listed as limited.
"It went great," Phillips said. "I made it all the way through it, so that was a bonus. I made a few plays, so I'm getting my confidence back.
"I feel a whole lot better than I felt two weeks ago, a week ago. Still, I don't feel at 100 percent, but I think I'm good enough to play at this point."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has said he's eager to use the three-safety package that was such an integral part of the defense when Deon Grant played for the Giants. If Phillips returns, he will team with Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown to give opponents an alignment they've seldom had to deal with this year.
Defensive end Justin Tuck said Phillips' return would provide a big boost to the Giants defense against Green Bay's high-scoring offense.
"It allows us to put more packages in, it allows us to move a lot of guys around, allows us to show different looks that offenses haven't seen us with yet," Tuck said. "As a D-lineman, you know that guy can make the big play, there are a lot of things he can do back there on that back end that other guys can't. We get an opportunity to get back to some of our three-safety look, kind of what we did last year. It gives us a lot more options back there on the back end."
But Phillips must first prove to the coaches he is ready to play at a high level. How can he do that?
"Just basically continue to practice," he said. "Don't tell them I'm sore, but for the most part just keep doing what I'm doing. It was a good day today and I think they're just going to leave it in my hands like they've been doing.
"That's why I have two more days of practice. Hopefully by Sunday, that time comes where I feel I have all my confidence back and feel 100 percent so I can go out there and make plays."
Phillips, who missed most of the 2009 season after undergoing knee surgery, knows he faces both mental and physical challenges in returning after a long layoff.
"I think it's more mental, just believing in my abilities," Phillips said. "If I see something, I'm telling my mind that I'm healthy and I have to go get it and that's kind of where I'm at right now."
For Phillips, the real question is where will be he Sunday night?
In addition to Phillips linebackers Keith Rivers (calf/knee) and Jacquian Williams (knee) were limited in practice.
*Three Giants did not practice today: wide receiver Domenik Hixon (ankle), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (knee). It was Joseph's first missed practice this season. "He's been kind of back and forth with it for a while," coach Tom Coughlin said of Joseph's knee.
"Today it was just more swollen than other days and I felt like I couldn't go on it, so I didn't," Joseph said. "Tomorrow is another day and I better do something tomorrow."
*Guard Chris Snee (ankle), center David Baas (ankle/elbow) and safety Tyler Sash (ankle) practiced fully
*Offensive lineman Selvish Capers was signed off the practice squad to fill the roster vacancy created when defensive tackle Markus Kuhn was placed on injured reserve last week. Kuhn tore his ACL in the Giants' most recent game, at Cincinnati.
Capers, 6-5 and 315 pounds, was a seventh-round draft choice in 2010 by the Washington Redskins from West Virginia. He spent that season on Washington's practice squad. Last year, he was signed to the Giants' practice squad on September 5 and was waived and re-signed nine times. Capers was with the Giants in training camp, was waived on September 1 and signed to the practice squad the following day.
Capers' spot on the practice squad was filled by Stephen Goodin, who was also signed to the practice squad on September 1. His contract was terminated the following day.
*The Giants have won four in a row and five of their last six games following a regular-season bye, including a 20-17 victory against Miami in 2011. In the four-game, post-bye winning streak, Eli Manning completed 96 of 141 passes (68.1 percent) for 1,290 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. That's a healthy passer rating of 114.7.
Manning said he wasn't aware of the statistics, nor did he seem particularly interested in them.
"I think you just try and get rest and come back fresh," Manning said of the bye week. "Obviously, I think having a week off just to get your mind off of football a little bit, then you come back and you're just excited, re-energized, have a great week of preparation. I thought we had a good practice today, guys were running around, guys are enthused. Hopefully, we'll come out there and play great football."
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews is doubtful for the game with a hamstring injury. Matthews did not practice today for the Packers.Please note that there will be NJ TRANSIT train service to MetLife Stadium for the Jets-Patriots game Thursday night and the Giants-Packers game on Sunday night. Service to MetLife Stadium will begin at 4:30 p.m. out of Hoboken (westbound). The last train from the Meadowlands Sports Complex to Hoboken (eastbound) will not depart Meadowlands Station any earlier than 12:40 a.m.
*Customers travelling on NJ TRANSIT trains to the Meadowlands Sports Complex should purchase their round trip tickets from their originating station TO THE MEADOWLANDS SPORTS COMPLEX to avoid delays boarding trains. Tickets purchased on the train will include a $5 surcharge for each ticket.
NJ TRANSIT offers Meadowlands online ticketing option where customers can purchase round-trip adult tickets from New York Penn Station to the Meadowlands Sport Complex only. Up to eight tickets may be purchased in one transaction. The final Meadowlands-bound train will depart Hoboken at 8:25 p.m.
Customers traveling to and from Hoboken on the following trains must change trains at Secaucus:
Train 2003 (5:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
Train 2015 (6:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
Train 2029 (7:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
Train 2039 (8:25 p.m. from Hoboken)
Train 1978 (5:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
Train 1988 (6:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
Train 2004 (7:48 p.m. from Meadowlands)
For further information, call NJ TRANSIT Customer Service at (973) 275-5555. http://www.njtransit.com/ServiceAdvisory?Id=9527
*The Giants and New York Cares will host their 15th annual Coat Drive this Sunday, when the Giants host the Green Bay Packers at 8:20 p.m. Giants Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently worn coats to MetLife Stadium and to drop them off at the FedEx trucks parked in front of the MetLife and Verizon Gates or with the New York Cares volunteers who will be stationed at every stadium entrance gate. All coats collected will be donated to New York Cares, a nonprofit organization, for distribution to residents of New York City, Staten Island, the Rockaways and other areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.