Kenny Phillips makes the most of his NFL comeback with Saints

He once was one of the premier safeties in the NFL. Kenny Phillips is now just trying to salvage his professional football career.

Phillips, a first-round pick of the New York Giants back in the 2008 NFL Draft, has been out of the league the past two years as he's battled a multitude of injuries. 

A knee injury sidelined Phillips part of the 2012 seasons while he was still with the Giants. After leaving New York as a free agent, he signed with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, where his surgically repaired knee hampered him throughout training camp leading to his release in August of 2013. 

Phillips, 28, has not had a single NFL tryout up until the New Orleans Saints worked him out in December 2014 and signed him to a reserve/future contract. 

A very humbled Phillips is well-aware that the NFL is a business and that injuries have derailed what was once a promising career. Still, the safety refuses to let go of those aspirations and is confident he'll make the most out of his current opportunity.

"I know why I was at home. It wasn't because I couldn't play, but because physically injuries kept me off the field," Phillips said. "If I was healthy, I'd still be playing football and at a high level. Unfortunately for me, the injuries kept me at home on the sofa the last two years."

"I'm finally healthy," he proclaimed. "I'm finally good to go."

The 31st pick in the 2008 draft, Phillips became a full-time starter in New York in 2010, when he registered 60 tackles and recovered three fumbles. A year later, he improved those numbers to 63 tackles, 11 pass defenses and four interceptions.

During the 2011-12 season, however, a knee injury derailed Phillips' career. Phillips sprained his left MCL in that December, an injury that should have cost him only two weeks. Instead, a problematic rehabilitation process prolonged how long he was sidelined. By Week 12 of that season, Phillips played but was forced from the game.

That offseason marked the end of Phillips' rookie deal, and after spurning the Giants' contract offer he became an unrestricted free agent. 

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The Eagles signed Phillips to a one-year deal only to see the safety leave OTA practice with an injury two months later. His knee continued to slow him down and eventually led to his release before Week 1 rolled around. 

Phillips wouldn't disclose much about the rehab process the past two years, but said he was finally at 100 percent. 

"It's truly a blessing. I'm finally good to go, and I'm enjoying being back here playing football," he said. "The last two years I've been home praying I get another shot, and I'm definitely excited about the Saints giving it to me."

In those two years at home, Phillips and his wife had their first child, which was a welcomed distraction while he couldn't play football. It was a "blessing in disguise," Phillips said.

Phillips is under the impression that everything happens for a reason, from having his child while he was rehabbing his knee to getting a tryout with the Saints now. 
Now, Phillips is competing for a spot for a free safety spot with Pierre Warren behind starter Jairus Byrd and backup Rafael Bush. Once considered one of the best at his position in all the NFL, he realizes what he's fighting for and is comfortable in his own skin, and he remains confident in his chances.

"This is part of the game, unfortunately, and it's the route I had to take," Phillips said. "I'm thankful to be here with the Saints. They have a great secondary, guys that can really play. They have questions and I tell them basically what I know and vice versa, because I haven't been around the game in two years.

"It's definitely exciting to be back. This is where I'm supposed to be and I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity."

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