Phillips to play, but will he start?

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenny Phillips will make his return this weekend against the Steelers.

The strong safety just might not regain his starting job right away.

After missing four games with a sprained knee he suffered on Sept. 30 in Philadelphia, Phillips said he will play Sunday. In his place, backup Stevie Brown has been outstanding and has earned a spot on the field, possibly as the starter against the Steelers.

"We haven't determined that," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of Phillips being the starter Sunday. "Brown's been playing really well right now. It's hard to unseat him right now. We'll find a way for Kenny to get on the field."

Phillips practiced in a limited role last week but ultimately was ruled out for the game in Dallas. He practiced fully on Wednesday and had a limited practice Thursday, and said he feels confident in his knee. Testing his knee in practice has helped his confidence.

"I have to get these reps in practice and make sure I'm able to go out there and perform and don't let the team down," Phillips said.

Brown has five interceptions, including four since Phillips' injury.

"He did what he was supposed to do. He took advantage of his opportunity," Phillips said. "It's rare that a guy loses his position to an injury, but it's possible with the way he's been playing. But I'm not worried about it. Whatever role they give me, I'll take it. If I have to back up my backup, I'll do it."

Brown hopes he'll be able to play as Phillips returns, and with a three-safety package coming, he should get continued looks going forward. Just like Phillips, he has no problems if he has to watch from the bench to start the game.

"If that's how it goes, that's how it goes," Brown said. "It's a role. I'm just here doing my role. Kenny was the starter and if he continues to be a starter, I'll just go back to doing what I was doing. It's in the coach's hands. I'm just doing whatever I'm asked to do."