EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants have activated safety Xavier McKinney off the non-football injury list for the Sunday game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium.
There was a change of plans Friday afternoon after McKinney was given clearance to play. Earlier that day, coach Brian Daboll had said the team would see but that the third-year safety would “probably not” be able to return this week.
The Giants (8-6-1) can make the playoffs with a win over the Colts.
McKinney, a team captain and the defensive signal-caller, has been sidelined since injuring the hand in an ATV accident in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during the Giants’ bye week. He underwent surgery, had pins placed in his hand and missed seven games.
The third-year safety had his 21-day practice window opened Thursday. He participated in practice wearing a splint and the hand wrapped in a way that resembled a mitten. His four fingers were wrapped together, with his thumb separate.
“I’d say that [Thursday] was kind of the first step of getting him back out there,” Daboll said. “I thought he moved around well. Conditioning, I thought, was good. Obviously, hasn’t played a game in a while. I’d probably say probably not this week, but he looked good up there.”
McKinney’s return comes just in time for a key stretch run. The Giants have a chance to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2016 with a win Sunday over the Colts, who have dropped five straight.
New York has gone 2-4-1 without McKinney in the lineup. It is allowing 26.0 points per game during that span with McKinney and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) injured. Only three teams have allowed more points since Week 9.
McKinney will wear a specially made contraption Sunday.
“It’s going to be different, but I consider myself an athlete, just like a lot of these guys in here, so we’re able to adjust,” McKinney said. “I’ll be able to adjust and figure out what works, what doesn’t work and what I can do to get around to be able to still, like I have all my hand still, in use of all my fingers. I’ll figure it out and we’ll go from there.”
McKinney admitted Thursday he was kind of running out of patience waiting for the go-ahead from the team’s medical staff. He has wanted to return but had to wait for his hand to heal.
The injury has left him with a significant scar and some lingering swelling.
“I mean there’s some there. Like I said, it’s got to get used to just the contact part again,” McKinney said. “You’re still going to get a little swelling here and there, but I think that’s a part of building that scar tissue. I’ve dealt with an injury before, so I know how it works. I know that it needs to be pushed a little bit in order to get back to where you want it to get to. That’s what I’m doing, and it’s been good so far.”
The key in recent weeks was getting McKinney’s hand to a point where everyone thought it could safely sustain contact. He tested it this week and the results were positive.
That helped expedite the decision for him to return against the Colts.
“When I was out there, obviously, I’m trying to get back out there so I have to test it out,” McKinney said. “Anything that I can do to provide a little bit of contact against it, obviously I’m trying to do that to see how much I can take, what I need to do, what I don’t need to do. Everything felt fine when I did it.”
McKinney, 23, has 37 tackles, 1 sack, 4 passes defended and a forced fumble this season.
The Giants released wide receiver David Sills to make room for McKinney on the active roster. They also elevated TE Chris Myarick and CB Zyon Gilbert for the Sunday game.