It is difficult for Kenny Phillips to relay what is happening with him physically because he is going so much off of feel.
It’s been almost four years since he had microfracture surgery. He was told at the time that he would have to manage his left knee for the rest of his career, and so far that has proven to be true. His knee never swells up and his body never shuts down, he says, so there are no obvious signs to tell him when he needs to back off. But through trial and error, he’s learned that setbacks are lurking around the corner if he’s not careful, and has a sense for when he is getting close to the edge.
The red line is not defined, so the team must take their cues from the player.
“They don’t quite understand it yet,” said Phillips following minicamp practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of building that trust. They are trying to take my word for it, and thus far it’s been working out. But I know it’s been hard on them, just as it’s been hard on me, to get through this process.”
Phillips missed a portion of the OTAs as a precaution. He was on the field Tuesday for the start of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp.
The 26-year-old safety has been able to manage the injury for the most part, and appeared in 31 of a possible 32 games the two seasons following surgery. Last year he was limited to seven games because of injuries to the opposite knee. He says he has no lingering problems with the right knee; the left knee is the ongoing issue.
Because of the health concerns, the Eagles were able to sign the former Giant to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money this offseason. This is a prove-it year for Phillips, which makes it all the more difficult to remain patient.
“I’ve been going home at nights like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I sit around and talk to Chip [Kelly] like, ‘I want to be out there.’ Sometimes I feel like I was in a lose-lose: What if I go out there and run myself in the ground or look bad?” said Phillips. ”It’s been tough, but they have been patient with me and when I have had the chance I was out there making the right calls and being in position, not perfect but the coaches know I have a great understanding of the defense and the scheme, so I think I’m OK.
“I could come out here and take every rep and feel great but I don’t know, I don’t want to venture out into that unknown — this is a big season not only for the team but for myself.”
So team and player will proceed cautiously in hopes that Phillips will be able to function at a high level during the season.
“To go out there and try to be a hero right now, it wouldn’t benefit me or the team,” said Phillips. “I do need to put something on film, the coaches do need to see me, so I’m just trying to be smart when to go out there and when not to. Right now they are trusting me with my own reps, telling me to get the reps that I can get and just be smart, and right now it’s working.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles announced their training camp schedule.
Kelly talks about teaming up with the Patriots for practice, and the notion that he taught Michael Vick how to hold the football.
Cary Williams was blunt and unapologetic when discussing his recent absences.
Sheil has his running diary of practice observations.
After an early demotion, DeSean Jackson says he and Kelly are on the same page.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus has filed a grievance against Philadelphia Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson, alleging the former client owes him more than $400,000 in unpaid loans.
Rosenhaus is alleging that Jackson took multiple loans from him, beginning when Jackson hired Rosenhaus to represent him in November 2009 and continuing through March 2012, a source told Yahoo! Sports.
Rosenhaus has filed a grievance with the NFL Players Association over the loans, multiple sources confirmed.
Dan Graziano was in town and talked to Jeremy Maclin about his contract situation.
The team’s 2009 first-round draft pick has only this one year left on his contract and admits to not knowing what the future holds. But he’s trying very hard not to get caught up in that.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Maclin said. “No good can come of thinking about that. I’ve seen a lot of people go down the wrong road thinking about that.”
Mini-camp rolls on. Practice starts at 12:40.