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Sports Giants S Xavier McKinney a bit of a rookie in second season

03:56  30 july  2021
03:56  30 july  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Xavier McKinney (born August 8, 1998) is an American football safety for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Alabama.

Xavier McKinney , who has been on injured reserve with a broken foot, is set to return to the Giants lineup Sunday against the Bengals. Giants scout team players of the week (from practices leading up to the Eagles game) were recognized Wednesday by wearing a black jersey with the number of a Ring of Honor member of their choosing. No. 16 Frank Gifford for QB Colt McCoy, No. 76 Chris Snee for OL Chad Slade, No. 75 George Martin for DL David Moa, No. 56 Lawrence Taylor for OLB Carter Coughlin and No. 7 Mel Hein for CB Jarren Williams.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Safety Xavier McKinney is entering his second season with the New York Giants a little smarter, more experienced and still feeling he has much to learn.

a group of baseball players playing a football game © Provided by The Canadian Press

McKinney didn't have the rookie season the Giants had hoped for when they selected the Alabama standout with the 36th pick overall in the draft.It was expected McKinney would either earn the starting job opposite Jabrill Peppers or he would share the spot with Julian Love, who had played well at the end of his rookie season.

Things didn't go as planned.

McKinney broke his left foot in training camp, had surgery and missed the first 10 games of the season. He didn't return until after the bye week and gradually earned some playing time, finishing with 25 tackles and a game-saving interception in the final game of the season against Dallas.

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Xavier McKinney 's rookie season was delayed after a foot injury suffered during training camp forced him to miss the first 10 games of the season . The young defensive back was able to return following the Week 11 bye and showed enough on the field to garner some positive buzz heading into the 2021 season . He capped off his rookie campaign with a game-sealing interception of Cowboys QB Andy Dalton in Week 17 to secure the victory for the Giants . The Giants selected McKinney in the second round (36th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. While at Alabama, the safety earned First-Team All-SEC honors in 2019 and

Monday, the Giants designated both safety Xavier McKinney and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines for a return to practice. Both are currently on injured reserve and will have to be activated to the active roster in the next 21 days if they’re going to play again this season . The Giants were surprised when McKinney fell to them in the second round of April’s draft, and picked him out of Alabama with an eye toward making him the centerpiece of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense. McKinney fractured his foot in August before the start of the season , putting his rookie year in doubt.

“It feels like year two and obviously it is a year two, but I still feel like I’m a rookie, just because I haven’t played a lot of games yet,” McKinney said Thursday after the team's second training camp practice. “So I still got a lot to learn, a lot to improve on. Like I said, I just take it one day at a time and try to improve and get better.”

While McKinney was healing last year, the Giants didn't let him rest. The coaches made him prepare offensive tendencies for upcoming receivers and quarterbacks. He then had to deliver a presentation to the defensive backs' room.

McKinney said the prep work allowed him to see the field better when he did return and helped his confidence.

“When I came in, I thought I knew how to study, how to do certain things,” he said. “But as the season went on and now coming into this year, I found new ways to prepare. The small things that I didn’t pay attention to before, that’s what I pay attention to now.”

Smith, Taylor power short-handed Dodgers past Rockies, 3-2

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The Giants ' second -round pick in 2020 showed some flashes, including a game-sealing interception in the regular- season finale against the Cowboys, but the sample size is small (14 percent of the defensive snaps). So in picking a position with more stability, safety tops the list. Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan are under contract and coming off solid 2020 campaigns. Xavier McKinney showed some flashes as a rookie and hopes to build off that in Year 2 . This threesome, especially given their versatility, puts the Giants in good position to mix and match entering next season .

Safety Xavier McKinney and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines were designated to return to practice Monday, meaning they now have 21 days to be activated from injured reserve or be forced to sit out the rest of the season . The Giants will not have a full team practice until Wednesday, returning from the bye Monday with individual drills, weightlifting and virtual meetings in small groups to better manage any possible McKinney , the second -round pick, will make his rookie debut in a safety rotation with Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers. He broke his left foot during training camp and underwent surgery Aug.

McKinney will face some stiff competition for playing time. Peppers and Love are back, and so is veteran Logan Ryan. He was signed just before the season and he had an outstanding year, making 94 tackles with a sack and an interception.

In coordinator Pat Graham's defense, McKinney will get playing time. Graham stresses versatility for his unit and he uses his players in a variety of roles, whether it's a safety, a slot cover guy or someone who plays in the box.

And McKinney wants to be around the ball.

“I pride myself in on that,” the 21-year-old said. “That’s something that I kind of remind myself before every practice, before every game is to go attack the ball rather than wait for something to happen. Obviously, I want to make plays. So, obviously, I still do what’s right for the team. But, you know, when the opportunity is there, I try to try to seize it.”

JUDGE-BENJAMIN

Veteran tight end Kelvin Benjamin was not happy after being released by the Giants on Wednesday. He complained that the second-year head coach approached him on the field at practice instead of in his office to tell him he was being fined for being overweight.

Judge refused to say much about the incident, saying it was done in the best interest of the team.

“I’m not going to overanalyze or dissect what happened specifically yesterday with one move,” Judge said. “Things happen differently all the time, so guys, it is what it is. I wish him well.”

NOTES: Starting left guard Shane Lemieux left the field with what the team described as a knee issue. There was no elaboration. ... Judge had players running penalty laps for mistakes and penalties. Among those getting extra exercise were quarterback Daniel Jones and tight end Evan Engram.

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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press

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