Rookie safety Xavier McKinney is good on Zoom. The Giants soon might learn whether that translates to the field.
The second-round pick made a positive first impression last spring when he wowed defensive coordinator Patrick Graham during the team's virtual minicamp.
"He’s real smart over Zoom," Graham said Friday.
McKinney impressed further during training camp but again had to settle for the NFL’s version of virtual learning after having surgery to repair a fractured foot late in training camp.
But as Thanksgiving weekend winds down, it finally may be time for McKinney to take what he learned over Zoom and on the practice field and use it in a game.
McKinney could be on track to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Bengals, Giants coach Joe Judge said Friday. The Alabama product was not listed on the injury report this week and the team has until 4 p.m. Saturday to add him to the active roster.
"I’m definitely ready to go," McKinney said Friday, adding that he’ll defer to the coaching and medical staffs on the final decision. "I’ve been progressing each day, so everything’s been good."
While rehabbing, McKinney immersed himself in film study during the week.
"I would watch the games at home sometimes, just to be able to see certain situations, certain formations, certain routes that maybe I’ve never seen or [that were] something new to me," McKinney said. "It was also good for me to be able to study the QBs and different QBs that we play to just get a feel for how they play."
While no NFL rookie would ever choose the couch, McKinney said he learned a lot from the different view of the game.
"It definitely helps to be able to see everything off the field because you get a better feel for it," he said. "But obviously, it’s a lot different when you actually go on the field and you get the speed, especially with me being out as long as I’ve been out. I’m not used to the speed and I’ve been trying to get back adjusted to it, which I’ve been doing a pretty good job of doing."
The Giants have flexibility with McKinney, specifically because of the player they signed to replace him in late August -— Logan Ryan. Ryan has played well and is leading the NFC in Pro Bowl voting at free safety.
Ryan said earlier in the week that he certainly doesn’t see McKinney coming back as a job threat. He views him as a boon to a secondary that has the potential to get better.
"There’s no worry, there’s 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."
Where exactly does McKinney fit?
"That’s Pat Graham’s job to stay up late and design those defenses," Ryan said. "I only do a couple of them, but he does the rest. That’s his job to figure that out. You can never have too many good players on the field."
Graham said he’ll be careful to bring McKinney along slowly scheme-wise. After all, he is just a rookie and the Giants, despite their 3-7 record, are trying to win a division title.
"Whatever snaps they get, they earn," Graham said. "But let’s not expect to throw the kitchen sink at him. I’m not going to do that. He hasn’t played yet."