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Safety Stevie Brown stepping up again


When Tom Coughlin was asked today if Stevie Brown will start for the injured safety Kenny Phillips Sunday against Cleveland, he blandly responded, "We'll see."

That is the coach's default response for questions he prefers not to answer. In his opinion, it's better to leave matters regarding player deployment shrouded in mystery.

Brown played most of the game last week in Philadelphia after Phillips hurt his knee in the first half. All the public reviews have been favorable.

"I think Stevie Brown did a good job," said Antrel Rolle, the other starting safety. "There weren't any setbacks and he did everything that he was asked to do."

Phillips status is week to week, and he did not practice today, so it's logical to assume that Brown will make his second career start against the Browns.

But the Giants have at least one more viable option. Tyler Sash returned to practice today after missing the first four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

"I think it was pretty much me and T. Sash in there today (at practice)," Brown said. "Trel (Antrel Rolle) worked for a little bit for the most part of the practice and then he kind of sat down and then me and Tyler took over."

In Philadelphia, Brown was second on the team with seven tackles (six solo), including two for losses. He is tied with Spencer Paysinger for the team lead with six special teams tackles.

"It gives me a lot of confidence," Brown said of his performance against the Eagles. "I felt like I did my job. I had a few bad plays, but everybody has bad plays. If I get called on again this week, I'll be ready."

"We have a lot of confidence in Stevie," Rolle said. "He's prepared well, he's practiced well and when game time comes, we're very confident that he's going to get the job done."

Brown is a third-year pro who is in his first season with the Giants. He spent his rookie season in 2010 with the Oakland Raiders, for whom he played in 15 games, including a start in the season finale. Last year, he played in eight games for the Indianapolis Colts before going on injured reserve with a quad injury. The Giants signed him as a free agent on April 3. He could well play a big role in Sunday's game.

"You prepare to play like always," Brown said. "You don't want to see anybody go down. Somebody with KP's skills or Antrel's skills, you never want to see them go down, but you've got to step up whenever you're called upon.

"I've definitely done this before. It's pretty much how I spent my whole rookie season in Oakland, did the same thing. If anything ever happened to (Michael) Huff out there, (I played). So I'm used to it."

Brown said he felt no anxiety when he was summoned to replace Phillips in a nationally-televised night game.

"The butterflies go away," he said. "Those went away rookie year. I've played in games before. I've played defense before. I've played special teams before, so once you're on the field, you've got to perform. There's no time to be nervous anymore."

If Sash has any nervousness, it will likely be the result of making his season debut. He was not permitted to have any contact with the team during his suspension. He returned to the Timex Performance Center on Monday and practiced for the first time today.

"It's good to be back out there with my guys and teammates," Sash said. "I'm like a little kid on the playground - I get to go out and play again.

"It's been a month. You try to do stuff to simulate on your own, but it's nothing like getting in practice and getting actual reps and feeling good about getting to work with the guys again."

Rolle noticed a difference in Sash when they were on the field today.

"Tyler, he loves to play the game, he loves to be out there with us and he's moving around extremely fast," Rolle said. "He came in a little lighter today, which in my eyes is a good thing. He's moving around a lot faster and he's anxious to get back out on the field."

Sash played in all 20 regular season and postseason games in 2011, when the Giants selected him in the sixth round of the draft. Most of his playing time was on special teams. But with Phillips down, he could get more action in the secondary.

"You never want to see anybody go down, you don't want to see any injuries or anything," Sash said. "It gives me an opportunity to come in and start contributing right away on special teams or defense."

The Giants currently have a roster exemption for Sash so he can practice with the team. They must make a move by 4 p.m. Saturday for Sash to be eligible to play against the Browns.

"Whatever is asked of me," Sash said, "I'm ready to go."


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