Stevie Brown, the Columbus East graduate who made it big as a New York Giants safety, said that despite his torn ACL he has reached a new comfort level that he hasn’t enjoyed before in the NFL.
On Tuesday, Brown signed a one-year contract with the Giants after he sat out the entire 2013 season following his Aug. 24 injury while returning an interception during a preseason game against the New York Jets.
“I have been relaxed the whole time I have been rehabbing, even though I didn’t play last season,” Brown said Wednesday by telephone from New York. “I know everybody here in this building now, from the people in the weight room to the guys in the medical facility.”
Perhaps he would rather not know the medical facility personnel so well, but he is confident that he will return to the form that made him one of the top defensive backs in the NFL in 2012.
It was that season Brown had eight interceptions, 11 passes defensed and 71 tackles as he became a starter following Kenny Phillips’ injury.
Twice Brown was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Week.
He signed a $2.023 million contract before the 2013 season and was scheduled to be the starter at strong safety.
It was quite a move for a player who spent time on three different rosters before landing with the Giants in 2012. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders in 2010 out of Michigan, played a season with the Raiders, and spent a few days on the Carolina roster before playing the 2011 season with the Colts.
Although his ACL tear was a setback, Brown said he expects to return to the form he displayed in 2012.
“I’ve watched people come back from ACL tears,” Brown said. “Like seeing Adrian Peterson and Darrelle Revis, to see them get back out there doing what they do so well.”
Brown said questions about his health didn’t hinder contract talks.
“I’ve been up here rehabbing every day,” Brown said. “There are not too many questions. They see me every day.”
He will have a specialist check his knee in April, and he expects to be released at that point to return to full duty.
“I’m always pushing to get back,” he said. “So far, I am right where I need to be.
“It definitely can be annoying at times to rehab, but these things will happen. I will ask, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ and (the medical personnel) will explain to me why I can’t. Alright.”
He expects to take a game to get the feel of the game back, and then put the injury behind him.
When he does return, Brown will be trying to break into a Giants starting lineup that includes safeties Antrel Rolle and Will Hill. If Brown returns to his 2012 form, the Giants are expected to have one of the most talented secondary units in the NFL.
Brown has gone through rehab before. He broke his ankle three games into his senior season at Columbus East in 2005. He had gained more than 1,700 all-purpose yards for East and scored 17 touchdowns his junior year to go with 30 tackles and three interceptions.
He continues to keep track of the Olympians in football and spoke to the team by Skype before it headed to the state championship game in Indianapolis on Nov. 30.