Kenny Phillips to IR

The first big injury bomb of the 2009 season landed on Thursday when it was learned that starting strong safety Kenny Phillips, who was coming off his best game of his young career, was placed on Injured Reserve.

Sure the Giants have already lost DT Jay Alford and rookie RB Andre Brown to IR, but this is obviously much worse news.

In Dallas, Phillips intercepted two passes, both of which led to Giants touchdowns. He also tied for the team lead with seven tackles, boosting his two-game total to a team-high 16. It seemed Phillips, the Giants' first-round draft choice in 2008, was on his way to a stellar sophomore season.

Phillips has a knee condition that first surfaced in training camp. Phillips has seldom practiced in recent weeks and received constant treatment. But an examination by team doctors and an MRI revealed that the condition (patella femoral arthritis) in Phillips' left knee has worsened. A final determination has not yet been made on how to treat Phillips' condition.

"I really feel for Kenny because he had worked so hard during the offseason to prepare himself for the ‘09 season," Giants GM Jerry Reese said. "He had a great camp and was just beginning to come into his own and showed flashes of being one of the premier safeties in the NFL. We expect him to recover from this setback and come back stronger than ever. This league is about making adjustments and we will do that."

The Giants were awarded Aaron Rouse off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, who released him on Sept. 23. Rouse started the Packers' first two games of the season.

Phillips was as shocked about the news any anybody.

"It never crossed my mind, ever," he said. "I knew the situation. I just felt I could push it through the season. So to get this news is a real shock." "The most important thing for us right now is to realize it's an emotional time for Kenny Phillips," Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said. "He had an excellent training camp. He played the deep ball, really, unlike anybody we've had around here. He has two interceptions with two outstanding plays the other night, he leads the team in tackles. His presence is felt in really every category on special teams and defense. He was quietly very strong back in the secondary. We were very excited about what we thought could be a Pro Bowl year for our free safety.

"Unfortunately, it's a difficult time for all of us and for Kenny. Our concerns are about Kenny from an emotional standpoint, because this morning he looked like he'd lost his best friend. He's really down. But it's something the doctors felt was needed to be corrected right now, so what's in the best interest of the player is being done. I'm sure he'll rehab and be back with us in the spring."

At some point in camp, Phillips' knee became swollen and sore. He missed two of the four preseason games, but he was able to play well in the Giants' victories over Washington and Dallas.

"It's hard to say exactly when (the knee first hurt)," he said. "Everybody gets nicks and bruises in training camp, so that's just what I thought it was. Swelling occurred, but most people get swelling. As long as it goes down, it's not a big deal.

"For the most part I was able to do the things that I am used to doing. I had a little bit of restriction from time to time, but that was something that I was going to play with, I learned to play with."

This is the first time in Phillips' football life he will miss extensive playing time because of injury.

"I hate to miss out on this season," he said. "We have such a great team I wish I could just be a part of it, helping them out. I know the team is going to support me. They are treating me like family, like I am their son, brothers or whatever. Jerry Reese came down and talked to me, Coach Coughlin, the training staff, everyone has been real supportive of me."

C.C. Brown, whom the Giants signed this offseason, will take Phillips' spot in the starting lineup.

As for his replacement on the roster, the 6-4, 227-pound Rouse had nine tackles (seven solo) in Green Bay's 31-24 Week Two loss to Cincinnati. He had three solo tackles in the season-opening victory over Chicago.

A third-year pro, he has played in 27 games20with 11 starts. He has 113 tackles (80 solo), seven passes defensed and four interceptions, including a pick of Peyton Manning that he returned 99 yards for a touchdown last Oct. 19. It was the longest interception return in Lambeau Field history.

Rouse joined the Packers as a 2007 third-round round draft choice from Virginia Tech, the 89th overall selection. As a rookie he played in 11 games with three starts at free safety and had 33 tackles (26 solo) and a pair of interceptions. After missing the first three games with a hamstring injury, Rouse made his NFL debut at Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2007. His first start was also against the Vikings, on Nov. 11. Rouse had two special teams tackles in the NFC Championship Game against the Giants.

In 2008, Rouse played in 14 games with six starts and was third among Packers defensive backs with 68 tackles (44 solo). Aside from his touchdown, he intercepted a pass at New Orleans on Nov. 24.

In 52 games at Virginia Tech, Rouse had 24 starts and recorded 217 tackles (93 solo), 12 stops for losses, forced four fumbles and had five interceptions.

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