Kenny Phillips and Connor Barwin were the Eagles' highest-profile free agent signings this offseason, but Barwin's resume doesn't match that of Phillips, a key player on the Giants' Super Bowl winning team two seasons ago.
A lot of fans would have been happy had the Eagles drafted Phillips in the first round in 2008, instead of trading down and letting the Giants grab the big, long-armed former Miami star 31st overall. But there wasn't a lot of rejoicing when the Birds finally did acquitre Phillips in March, signing him to a one-year free agent contract. The reason wasn't hard to understand: Phillips underwent microfracture surgery after a bad knee injury in 2009, then suffered MCL and PCL injuries that limited his play last season.
So far, the Eagles seem to be taking a cautious approach with Phillips in OTAs, though he said Tuesday that his knee feels fine.
"My knee is good," Phillips said. "MRIs show that it healed up nicely. Right now, we're just taking it one day at a time."
Phillips hasn't been working with the first-team defense during the two days reporters have been allowed to watch spring drills. He declined to shed any light on that Tuesday, but agreed that coaches "most definitely" are eaqsing him in.
"They're definitely letting me take my time, trying to just monitor me right now, so I can be good when it really counts, which is training camp and the season," Phillips said. 'It's different, it's a lot different (from being an established starter with the Giants.) I'm not with the first group, but I'm still gettting the same amount of reps as those guys, basically going out there and making plays and showing the coaches that I am a starter."
A reporter asked Phillips, 26, if he is the player he was a few years ago. His answer was typical of a veteran who has suffered serious injury.
"I'm better, because I'm smarter; I know what it takes to get from Point A to Point B. I know when my body needs rest," he said. "I feel like I have a long career ahead of me, as long as I just be smart with it. It's definitely something I have to be conscious of when I'm in the weight room or when I'm on the field, how many reps I take. At the same time, I'm going to get my work done. I'm never going to just tap out. I'm going to do what I have to do."