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David Merritt, 11.13.12

Q: Stevie Brown spoke about when he came here, he used to play really deep. He said that you had him move up a little bit more. He seems to have the speed. What goes into making that decision of having him play deep or having him come up?
A: I think it depends on the quarterback. Certain quarterbacks that enjoy throwing deep seam balls, you need to make sure you actually venture off a little deeper. If you have quarterbacks that are throwing quick gains, you don't need to be as deep. That was one thing I talk to all of my guys about. ‘Don't take yourself out of a play by being 20-25 yards deep.' You're not going to help anybody being back that far. I try to get them all down closer towards the line of scrimmage, to where they can actually have better angles to make plays on the ball or as the quarterback looks towards a certain guy.

Q: He said having moved closer to the line, he's able to drop and play the run.
A: Exactly. He's done well at that. I asked him one day. I was kind of joking around, because a couple of the other safeties were around. I said, ‘Stevie, what is it that you're doing different?' He said, ‘Coach, I'm just doing what you tell me to do.' I said, ‘Wait a minute. That's not the reason why you're making the plays.' He said, ‘No. To be honest with you.' He actually said that to me as well. He thought that he had to help everyone back there as a middle and one-third player, when it's physically impossible for you to help everyone. So, you just have to understand as a post-player, what are we teaching here? He's grasped that concept very well.

Q: He's played well. How much do you guys miss Kenny Phillips?
A: We miss Kenny, because now you have a guy that has played well for us and he has been consistent for us over the years. To be able to find out about Stevie Brown with these past five or six games, that has been a breath of fresh air. That's one of the things when you let a veteran go off into his retirement, basically Deon (Grant), and then you get a guy like Stevie Brown that can come in here and make the plays that he's making. It's like "Wow, that's pretty doggone good.' Of course, we have Will Hill that's coming back to us as well this past weekend. It helps to have multiple safeties that can do different things.

Q: Will is listed as a safety, but he's always down at the nickel spot. Do you consider him a safety?

A: He's a safety. The thing is, Will, as we all know back in Florida, did a great job in the middle and one-third. Getting him closer, down to the line of scrimmage where he's very explosive, he's physical and just getting him to understand leverage and how to play the proper levels. That's the one thing that we've had to work on with Will. He is a safety.

Q: It looks like he's taking on that Deon Grant hybrid-type role.
A: Right. Hopefully, depending on how Coach Coughlin would like to go with this, we can get more safeties on the field in a package. The teams that we're getting ready to face, these quarterbacks we're about to face are going to be pretty stressful on some of the linebackers who are trying to cover these particular tight ends.

Q: What about Antrel? How different is he this year? Has he gotten better? What have you seen from him?
A: Antrel has actually become more consistent. Being at the safety position and not the nickel position, so you don't highlight him as much as he's been highlighted in the past. Antrel has actually become more consistent and actually playing the safety position for the first time this year. Before, he was playing that hybrid-nickel slash linebacker-type role for us. Having him down around the line of scrimmage from time to time, but yet playing deep the majority of the time, he's been really good for us.

Q: You've streamlined his role a little bit to where he's not doing 50 million things has helped?
A: It's helped, and it's going to continue to help us out. Again, if we have to go back to a particular package where we have to use Antrel down low, we will do that.

RE: Why Kenny Phillips didn't suit up for the Bengals game
A: I will let Coach Coughlin answer that. That was a decision that was made by Coach, Kenny and Mr. (Jerry) Reese. When it came down to me, I was like ‘okay.'