Kenny Phillips was on the field Tuesday for the first day of the Philadelphia Eagles' mandatory minicamp. He was not on the field last week for OTAs, though he was in the building working with team trainers. I did not catch Phillips after practice Tuesday, but Tim McManus did, and he's got the lowdown on what Phillips and the Eagles are going through with regard to his troublesome knee:
“They don’t quite understand it yet,” said Phillips following minicamp practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of building that trust. They are trying to take my word for it, and thus far it’s been working out. But I know it’s been hard on them, just as it’s been hard on me, to get through this process.”
“To go out there and try to be a hero right now, it wouldn’t benefit me or the team,” said Phillips. “I do need to put something on film, the coaches do need to see me, so I’m just trying to be smart when to go out there and when not to. Right now they are trusting me with my own reps, telling me to get the reps that I can get and just be smart, and right now it’s working.”
The good part of all of this is that Phillips is a smart veteran player whose track record as such merits some level of trust. The bad part, of course, is that some days his knee isn't going to let him practice or play, and it doesn't seem to offer any helpful patterns of behavior that let him know in advance when those days are going to be. This is not news to the Eagles, of course. Had it not been for concerns over the knee, it would have cost them much more to sign Phillips than it did. Heck, had it not been for concerns over the knee, the New York Giants likely would never have let Phillips hit the market in the first place. But the knee is a fact of Phillips' life, and for this year at least it appears it will be a fact of Chip Kelly's as well.
Phillips is a good enough player, and the Eagles' safety position needs enough help, that the Eagles will give him a lot of rope on this. If Phillips can play at all, he'll make the Eagles' defense better when he's on the field. If he can somehow get that knee through a full 16-game season, his impact on the defense could be incalculably helpful. But it's going to be a painful, halting process no matter how it turns out, and Phillips and the Eagles are just at the beginning of it.