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Rookie Phillips a big hit at safety for Giants

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Looking at the forearm of Giants wide receiver Brandon London is all it takes to see the impact new safety Kenny Phillips is having in training camp.

There was a 5-inch scab with traces of dried blood along the outline of the wound Tuesday, the result of another big hit by Phillips.

New York's first-round draft pick is developing a reputation as a hitter in less than a week of practice at the University at Albany, and that's just in so-called noncontact drills.

"Sometimes when I see the ball and I am running full speed, I have to tell myself, 'No. Don't do it,'" Phillips said Tuesday. "You keep finding yourself having to move out of the way. It's a weird feeling."

Phillips has had a few oops since practice started Friday, with a couple of very noticeable hits Monday. The Miami product nailed veteran Reuben Droughns on a running play early in the morning practice and then he ran through London on a deep sideline route that bloodied the first-year receiver's left arm.

London was amazed at what Phillips did on the play, and the amazement was not that he was hit by a teammate. It was the ground that Phillips covered to get to him.

London had beaten cornerback Kevin Dockery on a go pattern and was getting ready to make an uncontested catch.

"When I looked at Kenny initially, he was in the middle of the field," London said. "The next thing I know I am picking myself up off the ground and I got blood coming off my elbow and stuff like that."

To London's credit, he caught the ball, but Phillips certainly did his job, too.

It was like earlier in the day on the play with Droughns, a nine-year veteran.

"When I ran through the line, I got up to the secondary and Sammy Knight hit me and got me a little off balance and Kenny finished me off," Droughns said with a laugh.

Droughns said there was nothing dirty about the hit, noting it was just a rookie mistake.

"He got me," Droughns said. "He is still learning the rigors of camp, when to lay off and when not to lay off. But at the same time, you look forward to a safety who takes chances and will come up and smack the running back."

Not everyone is smiling. Coach Tom Coughlin has called Phillips over more than a couple of times to remind him that he is hitting teammates.

It was obvious during Tuesday's practice that the message is in the back of Phillips' mind. There were plays he closed on a receiver and then threw his hands up in the surrender position just to show the coaches that he was playing nice.

It also was obvious that Phillips was in position to make a play.

One of the hardest parts about playing safety for Phillips is deciding whether to go for the big hit or to intercept the pass. The safer course, he insists, is making the hit.

Miss the ball and the receiver has a chance of scoring. Hit the man and the worst that can happen is he catches the ball and thinks twice the next time about coming into your zone.

"That's what I am hoping for," Phillips said. "I want to go out there this preseason and keep doing what I have been doing in practice -- get in position to take someone's head off. I don't want to try to hurt him intentionally, but I am just doing my job. If the reputations comes, cool, I'll take it."

Phillips is aware that the NFL will protect its receivers. More than a few defensive backs have been fined for hits that were considered dangerous.

"If it happens, hey, I'll pay for it," he said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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