Phillips, Ross Lead Studly Unit
Sometimes the best stories are not the most obvious, or the most glamorous.
In camp this month, the Giants will be showing the NFL community how they back-filled the reduction of Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Derrick Ward, and Steve Spagnoulo. Those have been the bones of contention from every blogger, reporter, and fan who breathes Giant blue.
What you may not be hearing enough about is the young, athletic, hard-hitting, playmaking secondary that GM Jerry Reese and his staff have assembled.
Well, let me be the one to enlighten you.
The Giants have chosen a defensive back with their top selection three of the past five seasons. Those players are CB Corey Webster (2005 from LSU), CB Aaron Ross (2007 from Texas), and S Kenny Phillips (2008 from Miami).
Those three players, along with 2007 seventh-round selection, S Michael Johnson of Arizona, combine to form the Giants' starting secondary.
Phillips and Ross are the crown jewels, and are coming into their own very quickly. Johnson and Webster made major contributions during the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl championship run. It was Webster, by the way, who caught Brett Favre's last pass as a Packer, when he intercepted Favre in overtime of the NFC Championship Game.
Phillips arrived at Giants' camp last year very green, kind of thin but full of promise. He showed his knack for seeking out the ball and immediately raised eyebrows with his ability.
He had been compared to another Miami safety, the late Sean Taylor, and the Giants felt he could blossom into the player Taylor had become with Washington before his untimely death in 2007.
By November, Phillips became entrenched as a starter at safety, a position he most likely will not relinquish for many years.
This season, Phillips comes to camp as a starter. He's a little thicker, having packed on some muscle, and he's much more the wiser. Receivers will be in for a surprise when they are met by the 6'2", 210-pound, second-year star.
The third-year man out of Arizona has not missed a game since joining the team in 2007. At 6'2" and 207 pounds, he is almost a carbon copy of Phillips in the secondary. He has excellent cover skills and can make plays in the box, including sacking the quarterback.
Johnson was a real find for the Giants. He made an immediate impact as a rookie and has been improving steadily over time. Johnson enjoyed a baptism by fire, having played in five postseason games already in his young career.
When it comes to athletes, there are as few as talented as Aaron Ross. The former Longhorn has also benefited from playing in five postseason contests.
Ross has also steadily improved and has shown good field sense with a nose for the ball. His track-and-field background makes him a potentially great vertical cover corner. I don't use the term "shutdown" corner, by the way. There have only been a few of those in my lifetime.
The LSU star took a bit longer to mature, but he's arrived now and has taken his rightful place in the Giants' defensive backfield. Webster has become a "sticky" corner, showing ability to run stride-for-stride with some of the league's best wideouts.
Webster benefited from his time sitting behind the likes of veterans Sam Madison, R.W. McQuarters, and Will Allen. He's the veteran, now.
At safety, the Giants have only two others in camp. They signed the Texans' C.C. Brown, a four-year starter in Houston, and Sha'reff Rashad, a rookie out of Central Florida.
It is at CB where they are exhibiting the most talent and depth. Kevin Dockery and Terrell Thomas return as the primary backups. The rest of the group includes four rookies: DeAndre Wright, Stoney Woodson, Bruce Johnson, and Vince Anderson.
Anderson and Travonti Johnson are both 6'2" and may end up as backup safeties or on special teams.
John Fennelly is the founder / publisher of blogNYG.com - the fastest-growing fan-based blog in New York sports