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Giants keep Shockey, take Miami safety in first round

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Super Bowl champion New York Giants took a Miami safety in the first round and made as much news by keeping another Hurricanes top pick -- tight end Jeremy Shockey.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, the New Orleans Saints and several other teams approached the Giants about a trade for the oft-injured Pro Bowler who admittedly was unhappy with his role.

The Giants listened, but that was it.

"There was a lot of talk but very little activity," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Not surprisingly, the first question posed to general manager Jerry Reese after New York took safety Kenny Phillips in the first round concerned Shockey, the Giants' first-round pick in 2002.

"Can't we talk about our draft pick?" Reese said. "Let's talk about Kenny Phillips. Jeremy Shockey is our starting tight end, guys. I'm going to leave it at that. Let's talk about our draft pick. Jeremy Shockey is our starting tight end. That's the end of the story."

Reese then turned his attention to Phillips, who seemingly was a no-brainer for the Giants with the 31st and last pick of the first round.

New York lost starting free safety Gibril Wilson to Oakland in free agency. Veteran Sammy Knight was signed for the immediate future, but it still left the Giants with a future need and Phillips more than fills it.

The junior was the Giants' highest rated safety and Reese did not expect the 6-foot-2, 213 pounder to last.

"There's a lot of things to like about Kenny Phillips," Reese said. "We like his size and speed, he is multidimensional -- We like those kind of players. He played corner(back) before, and we think he can go down and play on a third receiver if he had to. He's smart and he's a good person."

Reese also said Phillips was "clean," meaning he had no medical or off-the-field problems.

New York's second-round pick, Southern California cornerback Terrell Thomas, had to deal with several injuries in college.

He started 28 of 39 games with the Trojans, recording 109 tackles and eight interceptions, including four this past season. He also had two shoulder injuries and major knee surgery during his career.

Phillips started 33 of 34 games in three seasons with the Hurricanes, including all 12 this past season at free safety. The junior finished his career with 203 tackles, including 15 for losses. He also intercepted seven passes, forced three fumbles and recovered one.

"I bring versatility," Phillips said in a conference call. "I can come down and play in the box, I can go back there and be a ball hawk. I'm a sure tackler and can be that guy on special teams. Whatever the team needs me to do, I can do that."

Phillips was excited joining a championship team.

"I am going to the reigning Super Bowl champs, I mean, with a great defense," said Phillips, whose selection pushed Miami's streak of having a player drafted in the first round to 14 years. "I am going to come in and learn, and try to make a statement."

Phillips defined making a statement as being a playmaker and a difference maker. He also believes he can challenge Knight and James Butler for a starting job.

"Of course guys are going to be bigger, faster and stronger, but I'm not slow. I'm not small. So I definitely feel I am going to come in and make an impact."

Being from Miami, Phillips has followed Shockey's career.

"I watched him since he went to the game and it's amazing," Phillips said. "I am definitely looking forward to playing with him."

Phillips said the Giants did not talk to him at lot after the NFL Combine, so he was surprised they took him.

Reese said the team didn't spend more time with Phillips because they liked him from the start.

"He's going to come in and play on special teams, if nothing else until he learns what to do," Reese said. "We feel like in time, he should challenge for some playing time and eventually become a starter for us."

This is the second straight year the Giants have taken a defensive back in the first round. They took cornerback Aaron Ross of Texas with the 20th pick overall.

The last time the Giants drafted a safety in the first round was Shaun Williams in 1998.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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