Giants safety Xavier McKinney participates in training camp on Aug. 9.

Giants safety Xavier McKinney participates in training camp on Aug. 9. Credit:

While the Giants’ first-round pick struggles, the second-round pick has never been beat, never blown an assignment and never made a mistake.

Of course Xavier McKinney has never played, either. But that may close to changing.

Joe Judge said earlier this week that the team is "optimistic and eager" to get the safety back into action. McKinney has been sidelined since August when he required surgery to repair a fracture in his foot. He’s not yet able to practice with the team, but he’s been able to participate in just about every other aspect of the season.

"He’s in the meetings every day and going through all the prep the guys are going through, taking tests, having study projects and things of that nature," defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said on Wednesday. "Just being around it keeps him locked in for when he does get his chance. Standing up in front of the room I’m often talking to guys and I see that his eyes are locked in, like always hungry for information. I’m excited for him when he does get his op to actually put some of that information to use."

Those "study projects," Henderson said, may involve anything from breaking down an opposing quarterback or tight end to scouring broadcasts of games to spot tipoffs or trends in the verbiage other teams use.

That’s a far cry from what the Giants hoped McKinney would be doing for them when they drafted him and then got a look at him in action in training camp.

"When he was available to us before he got hurt you saw he was a guy who had some natural instincts you just can’t coach," Henderson said. "A natural football awareness and football feel that allowed him to make plays in practice that I can’t take credit for coaching, that he just kind of naturally did. I was excited for the kid and still excited for when he gets his chance to come back."

The initial timeline for that return was early- to mid-November, and there have not been any setbacks in his recovery.

"He was really excited because he knew he was going to be a big part of what we were doing coming into the season," Henderson said. "When he got hurt it kind of took the air out of his sails, obviously. It’s the first time in his football career he’s had something like this happen, from talking to him. He was down for a while but then over time you see [him realize], ‘I’ll get a chance to play again. My chance will be around the corner.’ "

Notes & quotes: With veteran WR Corey Coleman re-signing with the Giants on the practice squad, the team adds a proven playmaker on offense and special teams. "I’m glad he’s back," wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. "Let’s see if he can add something to us in the coming weeks." …

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