WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – The New Orleans Saints secondary has been off to a strong start in training camp, with a good amount of rejected passes. But it wasn’t until Day 4 of practice that safety Kenny Phillips finally broke the seal with the first interception in full-team drills.
Phillips undercut a pass thrown by quarterback Ryan Griffin (who might have been sacked on the play). Phillips practically looked like the intended target on the play, reading it the whole way while crashing down from his center field position.
The pick was the latest promising sign for the 28-year-old Phillips, a former first-round pick of the New York Giants who is attempting to crack an NFL roster for the first time since 2012. Phillips also has rotated in with the first-string defense a few times while starting free safety Jairus Byrd has been sidelined with an unspecified injury.
“I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen out of Kenny,” Saints senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen said on Saturday. “He had some health issues, which set him back, but I think he’s back, he’s fully healthy. And I think we’re seeing a little bit the type of player he can be.”
Phillips was a starter on the Giants' 2011 Super Bowl team, but his career has been derailed by injuries. He reportedly had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009, then missed a large part of the 2012 season with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Phillips signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 but was released after battling a quadriceps injury in training camp.
Phillips has eight career interceptions in 61 career games, including the playoffs.
“When something’s been taken away from you for whatever reason, you realize how much it means to you and what you’re willing to do to get it back,” Allen said. “And I think this is a guy that’s really come back and put himself in a position, both physically and mentally, to have some success.”
Soon after Phillips’ pick, backup linebacker Henry Coley added one of his own on a tipped ball. Rookie QB Garrett Grayson’s pass bounced off the fingers of running back Marcus Murphy, and Coley snagged it out of the air.