Before Will Hill earned a starring role in the New York Giants' defense over the final 12 games of the 2013 season, Stevie Brown had emerged as a play-making safety in 2012, when he was second in the NFL with eight interceptions in just 11 starts.
Giants fans know, in fact, that Hill's full-time opportunity came because Brown went down with a torn ACL in the Giants' third preseason game a year ago. With Hill facing another suspension from the NFL and the possible end of his time with the Giants, the Giants are fortunate that the 26-year-old Brown is back.
Brown is working with the first team during OTAs and says he is "not at all" limited as he returns to football.
Missing last season likely cost Brown, who was a free agent this offseason, a nice pay day. He returned to the Giants, saying "this is where I wanted to be."
Right now, being back with the Giants has him back in a familiar role as a starter alongside Antrel Rolle.
"I didn't really expect anything. I knew that's where I wanted to be. I knew that I was going to work and wherever I fell on the depth chart is where I fell. Just keep going from there. Right now they have me next to ‘Trel so I'm staying next to ‘Trel," Brown said. "know what I can do, it's just continuing to prove it. That's all it is. So I can't say I'm surprised."
Head coach Tom Coughlin said that the situation with Hill "is and it will be" difficult until it is resolved. The coach likes what he has seen from Brown thus far.
"Stevie's had a good winter. He's been in here rehabbing the whole time. He's gone through both the first and second phases very well. He's running very well so we're very happy with that," Coughlin said. "He does have some ... we're watching him, let's put it that way. He is what we call limited but he has been able to demonstrate that he has prepared himself well."
Here is a video from Giants.com of Brown moving well during Friday's OTA:
In terms of safety depth the Giants signed veteran Quintin Demps. They also have second-year man Cooper Taylor and fourth-round pick Nat Berhe. If Hill is gone for part of the season, all of the season -- or even permanently -- the Giants will need Brown to regain his 2012 form.
The Giants remain a long way away from contact, or real games, but the signs for Brown are good thus far.