Giants Activate Xavier McKinney, Two Others for Sunday's Game

The rookie safety is projected to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Bengals.
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As expected, the Giants have activated rookie safety Xavier McKinney off injured reserve. McKinney is now part of the 53-man roster and could be active Sunday when the Giants visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team also announced that it activated rookie inside linebacker Tae Crowder from injured reserve and kicker Graham Gano from the reserve.COVID-19 list, but that outside linebacker Oshane Ximines, who had been on injured reserve since last month with a shoulder injury, will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. 

McKinney, who broke his foot during training camp, was designated to return from IR on Monday. He spent the entire week working with the team during the part of practice open to the media, a good sign that his return from injured reserve was trending in the right direction.

Giants head coach Joe Judge, speaking to reporters before the team's Friday practice, said he was "encouraged" by how McKinney had been moving around since being designated to return.

"The little bit that we were able to see of him rehabbing before this, he looked like he was in shape to come back. I’d say that everything has been on track with him being on a timely return," Judge said.

The head coach also strongly hinted that the plan for Friday was to see how McKinney, who worked on special "homework" assignments given to him by defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson designed to keep him from falling behind mentally, moved around.

"(Friday) is going to be a big day for him in terms of situations and how he can handle it," Judge said. "There’s more to it than just being able to run around out there. We have to make sure mentally he can fire on the same page as everybody else."

McKinney said the extra work helped.

“Yeah, I think I’ve learned a lot,” McKinney said. “Sometimes, it was kind of like little minor things that maybe I could pick out and tell them about maybe that they didn’t see.

“I was able to watch it on TV just to see certain situations, certain formations, certain routes that I’ve maybe never seen or something new to me. It was also good for me to be able to study the quarterbacks and different quarterbacks that we played to kind of just get a feel for how they played and what reads and what they kind of did.”

The expectation is that McKinney will see a small number of snaps and in limited packages. Veteran Logan Ryan, signed after McKinney's injury was announced, will continue to handle the heavy lifting, though Ryan suggested there would be room for both he and the rookie in the defensive backfield.

"There’s no worry, there are no egos about that there," Ryan said. "I think you’re talking to the wrong guy when it comes to worrying about that. We have a lot of versatile players. We’re getting healthier, we’re getting better. We’re getting talented players back. I’m excited to see how it unfolds."

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham cautioned reporters not to expect a set number of snaps for McKinney, saying that whatever snaps a player gets is earned.

But he did admit that McKinney brings a fair amount to the table.

"He’s a good football player out there. That’s the simple way to put it, with some position flex," Graham said. "This guy can play in the deep part of the field. He can play down low. He can play all over the field. It’s always good to have those pieces."

The Giants also announced they elevated defensive end Niko Lalos from the practice squad ahead of Sunday's game vs. the Bengals. The Giants did not elevate a tight end despite having Kaden Smith on the reserve/COVID-19 list which means they could be looking at Lalos, who played tight end in high school, to fill that tole.

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