EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Stevie Brown has returned to the Giants, where the locker room, the uniform and most of his teammates are very familiar, but the defense he'll be playing in isn't.
Brown, who spent the previous three seasons with the Giants, today re-signed with the team, two days after he was released by the Houston Texans. He brings production and experience to a unit that has been destabilized by injuries.
But much has changed on the Giants' defense since Brown last played here eight months ago. Most significantly, Steve Spagnuolo has replaced Perry Fewell as the team's defensive coordinator. So while Brown can easily settle into the routines in the Giants' schedule and the rhythms of the locker room, he must learn a new defensive scheme. And the regular season begins in 13 days.
"I haven't actually sat down and looked at the defense yet," Brown said minutes after signing his contract. "But one thing about defense is that everybody plays a lot of similar coverages. So it is just the techniques and the language that you have to learn."
Brown has no history with Spagnuolo, but is excited to work with him and become immersed in the new scheme.
"I hear nothing but good things from the guys that I talk to, that I was still talking to since preseason has started," Brown said. "They all like him and talking to Coach (Dave) Merritt (the secondary/safeties coach), Coach Merritt was just explaining to me a little bit of the philosophy that he runs out here on defense, saying even though I have mainly been known as a post player and everything like that, I can still come down into the box here and do what I need to do and the safeties are interchangeable. So there will be something good that I can do."
The Giants are counting on it. In their first two preseason games, Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson and Justin Currie all suffered season-ending injuries. Last week, second-year pro Nat Berhe underwent surgery to repair a calf injury. Landon Collins, the team's second-round draft choice, and three-year veteran Cooper Taylor each missed a game with knee and toe injuries, respectively.
Brown doesn't expect to be a savior, nor do the Giants anticipate one.
"They're just talking about coming in and competing and being able to fit in where I can," Brown said. "Definitely an opportunity.
"I like to think I can come around tomorrow. Realistically, it is definitely going to take a few days. There is always a learning curve, but I will be good."
Brown has produced in the past. In 2012, he intercepted eight passes, the highest total by a Giants player since Willie Williams had 10 in 1968. His 307 interception return yards broke the Giants' former single-season record of 251, set by Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell in 1949 and matched by Dick Lynch in 1963.
But Brown spent the 2013 season on injured reserve after tearing an ACL in a preseason game and subsequently underwent surgery. Last year, he played in all 16 games with eight starts, but did not intercept a pass. Brown sprained his foot in the season finale vs. Philadelphia on Dec. 28.
Photos of safety Stevie Brown's career with the Giants
"I'm good, I'm healthy," Brown said. "Being able to get back on to the field when I started down there, hit the ground running and been going ever since, so there have been no setbacks, not anything like that. I feel healthy."
Brown was a free agent after the season. He negotiated with the Giants, but opted to sign with the Texans. His parting was amicable – as it was in Houston last week.
"I asked for my release." He said. "They were okay with it and they didn't want to keep me there, so I definitely appreciate them for doing that and letting me go whenever I wanted to.
"It just wasn't playing into the strengths that I have as a safety, so there (was) no point in being around there."
Brown was well aware of the Giants' safety issues and had his eye on a return.
"Pretty exciting just being able to come back here," Brown said. "Seems like a position of need and it is a good fit, (so) definitely exciting to come back.
"This is a good place - where I wanted to be once everything was set and done."
The Giants are happy to have him back.