- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The most memorable moment from last year’s preseason opener is a painful one: tight end John Phillips tearing the ACL in his right knee.
After a solid rookie season, Phillips seemed to be on the verge of pushing No. 2 tight end Martellus Bennett for playing time. Phillips had a phenomenal 2010 training camp, taking advantage of extra reps with Bennett nursing a sore ankle, and caught four passes for 60 yards in the Hall of Fame Game before injuring his knee in the second quarter.
A year later, there is little evidence of Phillips’ injury. He doesn’t even wear a brace to protect the knee.
“Don’t need to wear one,” Phillips said. “I trust it. It’s good to go.”
The biggest problem for Phillips during the rehab process was that he pushed too hard at times. For instance, the Cowboys’ athletic trainers and medical staff had to convince him that walking five days after undergoing knee surgery wasn’t a good idea.
Phillips has acknowledged feeling a little rust. He says it’s going to take some time for him to cut as hard off his right foot as he did before tearing up his knee.
Unlike last year, Phillips didn’t create a lot of buzz in the Alamodome, but the coaches are pleased with his progress. Bennett’s role seems secure, but that’s because Bennett had a good camp, not because Phillips has regressed.
“He hasn't skipped a beat,” tight ends coach John Garrett said. “John is the type of guy who embraces adversity.”