The Giants have been without safety Xavier McKinney for the last three games due to a broken hand that he suffered in an ATV accident during a bye-week vacation. As Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports, McKinney is expected to miss at least several more weeks, but he does plan to return this season.
New York is 7-4 and currently holds the sixth playoff spot in the NFC. However, the club has lost two in a row and takes on the division-rival Commanders — who presently hold the seventh and final postseason spot — two times within the next three weeks. As such, Big Blue’s postseason fortunes could be largely decided before McKinney gets back on the field.
McKinney, 23, was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft, and while a broken foot limited him to just six games in his rookie season, he emerged as a foundational player for the Giants in 2021, when he appeared in all 17 games (16 starts) and notched five interceptions. He also pulled down an excellent 75.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, which was especially bullish on his coverage abilities.
His PFF grade slipped to 56.3 over the first eight games of the current season, though his presence is still missed. A team captain, McKinney is also the defensive signal-caller for a unit that was ranked eighth in the league in scoring defense at the time of his injury and which is now ranked 14th in that regard.
The secondary as a whole has been hit hard by injury. In the Giants’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys, they were without starters Adoree’ Jackson, Fabian Moreau, and McKinney, and while Moreau is active for the team today, Jackson is expected to miss several more weeks. As Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets, New York is deploying Nick McCloud and Moreau on the boundaries today, while UDFA rookie Zyon Gilbert — who is making his pro debut — will work as the primary slot corner.
In McKinney’s stead, the Giants first turned to fourth-round rookie Dane Belton for two games before pivoting to Jason Pinnock, a 2021 fifth-round choice of the Jets whom Big Blue claimed off waivers during final cutdowns in August.