Just a few days into their organized team activities, the New York Giants are already down one of their best young players. Safety Will Hill has been suspended by the NFL for the third time in as many seasons. His suspension will cost him the first six games of the regular season. Moreover, it will likely lead to his release from the Giants. New York is now in need of a new starter at safety.
Luckily for the Giants, they can turn to a familiar face in Stevie Brown. A former seventh-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, Brown is entering his fifth pro season. After one year in Oakland and another playing for the Indianapolis Colts, Brown joined the Giants in 2012.
He made an immediate impact on the Giants’ secondary. Brown recorded 111 tackles, eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries during his first year in New York. He was arguably Big Blue’s best defensive player that season, adding big-play ability and consistency to a thin secondary. Coming off of a fantastic 2012 season, Brown was poised to have another big year in 2013 and solidify himself as a young star in the league.
Unfortunately, Brown never had the chance to build upon his exceptional first season with the Giants. He tore his left ACL during a preseason game in 2013, forcing him to miss the entire season. The Giants’ secondary took a major hit, as did Brown’s career. His contract expired after 2013 and his injury likely cost him millions of dollars.
The Giants re-signed Brown to a one-year deal earlier this offseason to add depth to their defensive backfield. New York hoped to bring Brown back slowly from his injury and feature him as its third safety in passing situations. However, due to Hill’s suspension, the Giants will need Brown to play a much bigger role for their defense. He will likely be called upon to be the Week 1 starter at safety alongside Antrel Rolle.
Brown showed his ability to be a game-changing force at safety before his injury. If he can stay healthy this season, there is no reason to believe he won’t recapture his form in 2014.