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Giants sign former Pro Bowl linebacker Benardrick McKinney

Dolphins inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney does drills during

Dolphins inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney does drills during practice on Aug. 25 in Miami Gardens, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

In a perfect world, Benardrick McKinney would return to his Pro Bowl form and become the tackling machine the Giants lost when inside linebacker Blake Martinez suffered a torn ACL nearly a month ago. But if this season has shown anything, it’s that perfect worlds do not exist in the Giants universe. So instead, they’re just hoping McKinney can make it from the practice squad to the field and pitch in with a bit of production.

That’s why, pending a physical, they are signing the 28-year-old who had three 100-plus tackle seasons for the Texans but has played just four games since 2019. He missed almost all of the 2020 season with a shoulder injury, was traded to the Dolphins in the deal that sent Shaq Lawson to Houston this offseason, but was cut from Miami at the end of the preseason without ever playing a game for them.

"The plan is to have him join our practice squad, see where he is at physically and get him moved into our system," Joe Judge said Monday.

The Giants are bringing in McKinney after trying in-house options to replace Martinez, starting Tae Crowder and Reggie Ragland and working Carter Coughlin into the rotation this week against the Rams. One other option for them, rookie Justin Hilliard, tore his Achilles at practice last week.

McKinney is the second high-profile former Dolphin who never actually played for the Dolphins and who the Giants have signed to their practice squad this month. Two weeks ago, they added former first-round offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson, who was traded from the Titans to Miami but released three days after the deal.

Unlike Wilson, who has yet to be productive in the NFL, McKinney started 77 games in six years with the Texans. He has 11.5 career sacks, 30 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and was named a Pro Bowler in 2018.

Notes & quotes: Judge did not have an update on the status of LT Andrew Thomas (ankle) or WR Kadarius Toney (ankle) but provided some context to the injuries that forced them from Sunday’s game in the first half. Thomas had his ankle rolled up on but Judge said it was not the same side as the foot injury that had kept him out of the game against the Cowboys. Toney, Judge said, aggravated his pre-existing ankle injury when he was tackled out of bounds and his cleat stuck in the turf … The mysterious offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that negated the Rams’ successful fake punt that went for a first down on Sunday? Judge said the Rams were flagged because they "snuck the guy on illegally." The flag against the Giants, he said, was a "sideline violation." … Two rookie draft picks who have been hurt all season, CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) and LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), will begin practicing with the team this week. That will start their three-week window to be elevated to the active roster or else they will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

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