It’s not that the Giants haven’t appreciated everything Stevie Brown has done in Kenny Phillips’ absence. It’s just that the defense hasn’t been right without Phillips.
He’s expected to return to the lineup after the bye in Week 12, and the Giants believe having him on the field the final six games of the season could be exactly what their struggling defense needs. Plus, given the success the Giants have had previously with Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant on the field, there’s no reason to think the Giants’ “Big Nickel” package can’t be revived in a new form with Grant gone and Brown taking his place.
Where the Giants have missed Phillips, who has been out with an MCL sprain for six games, has been covering tight ends. Recently, Cowboys TE Jason Witten and Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham have done damage up the seam against the Giants, although defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Phillips’ absence has affected the defense in many ways.
"We miss him in more ways than one. Not only in the post or in the half but his athletic talent to cover a guy like Jason Witten or Gresham that we had to play or some of the tight ends we've had to face," Fewell said. "It's a big loss when you have a talented player like that."
Brown has shown a knack for making plays on the ball, although his blown coverage on the TD pass to Bengals WR A.J. Green last week shows he still can lack recognition at times. Phillips can help steady things, and Brown has played well enough to have earned a permanent role of some note.