EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A year ago at this time, when the New York Giants were holding their offseason practices, their first-team safeties were Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. A fair bit has happened since then. Brown tore his ACL in preseason and missed all of 2013 following surgery. Will Hill returned from a four-game drug suspension and emerged as one of the best players on the Giants' defense. The team re-signed Brown and signed safety Quintin Demps. Hill is in trouble again and is in the midst of an appeal of what would be a third drug suspension in three years.
So after all of that, as the Giants go through their offseason practices this year, their first-team safeties are, once again, Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.
"I knew this was where I wanted to be, and wherever I fell on the depth chart is where I fell," said Brown, who signed a one-year deal to return to the Giants in March. "Right now, they have me next to 'Trel, so I'm staying next to 'Trel."
After Brown collected eight interceptions in 2012 in a surprisingly effective relief performance for Kenny Phillips, the Giants made their 2013 offseason plans around the idea of him as a starter. He and Rolle worked together to get to the point where Brown could play in the box more and allow the two of them to switch off roles during games as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell prefers. But the injury derailed that plan, and when Brown re-signed it looked like a make-good type of deal -- low-risk for the Giants but potentially helpful if Brown could get healthy, and especially if Hill got in trouble again.
Brown says he feels healthy, and though he's monitoring his knee and taking it easier than he might normally this time of year, he believes he's good to go for 2014 as a starting safety for the Giants.
"It hasn't really bothered me, so I'll just keep going," Brown said. "For what we're doing right now, I feel good. I know I can do better."
It remains to be seen what happens with Hill, but it's entirely possible the opportunity Brown had taken away from him last August could come right back for him this September.