ALBANY, N.Y. – Kenny Phillips stood out on the opening day of the New York Giants' training camp.
On a day when players and coaches invariably talk about the excitement, anticipation and hope for an upcoming season, Phillips could not hide his disappointment.
For almost a year, the 23-year-old safety who was starting to show Pro Bowl potential has battled back from major surgery on his left knee. His target day for getting back on the field has been the first day of camp.
When the Giants ran their conditioning drills at the University at Albany on Sunday morning, all Phillips could do was watch.
The Giants have placed him on the physically unable to perform list, and no one is saying when he will be ready to go.
"I haven't played football in a long time and I was looking forward to the start of training camp," Phillips said Sunday during a lunch break. "I am still looking forward to getting out there."
When? He just doesn't know.
Phillips ran and did some football drills for the Giants' medical staff about two weeks ago. He felt he did everything asked.
When asked why he was on the PUP list, Phillips meekly said that maybe the staff didn't want to rush him. He insisted that since he had microfracture surgery, he has progressed to the point where he has run, cut and done football drills.
"So I am not worried about that, being in any pain once I do start," he said. "I just have to get used to playing football again."
Phillips got off to a great start last season, making 16 tackles and intercepting two passes in the Giants' first two games.
However, doctors found patella femoral arthritis in his left knee after the second game and performed the microfracture surgery. Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks had the same surgery and has returned at a high level.
New defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and most of the veterans on the team have told Phillips to be patient.
"We understand the nature of his injury," Fewell said. "We are all disappointed, but we understand that we must take it slow so we don't hurt Kenny and Kenny doesn't hurt himself. As soon as he can join us, that's great. We've got to look after Kenny and he has to look after himself."
While remaining patient can be tough, Phillips insists he won't push it. He noted that the Giants are in good hands at safety with veteran free agents Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant on the roster. And he also believes once he returns he is confident he will win his job back.
Phillips was bold when asked if he had any doubts about playing this season.
"No doubt. No doubt at all," he said. "I feel good. I worked hard to get where I am at now. Just watching myself on film in drills, I feel good and I am not worried about it."
Rolle has been checking up on Phillips and he said that the former Miami star has been following the advice of the medical staff.
"The last thing you want is a recurring injury or pushing it too fast and prolonging the process," Rolle said. "I told him to make sure he was 150 percent when he came back and take however long you need."