The X-men cometh.
Rookie safety Xavier McKinney and second-year linebacker Oshane Ximines were designated to return from injured reserve on Monday, opening a 21-day window for them to rejoin the active roster and bolster a Giants defense that is ranked a respectable 17th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed.
The two players have resumed practicing with the team and Joe Judge said they might play on Sunday against the Bengals.
"Both moved well. Both were really flying around the field today," Judge said Monday after a workout that included mostly individual drills. "When we get into Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, we’ll see them in more of a team setting . . . That will tell the story for the weekend. I don’t want to rule anybody out."
The move brings McKinney one step closer to his NFL debut. The second-round pick spent most of training camp as a starter in the secondary before suffering a foot fracture that required surgery in late August.
Ximines started three of the first four games this season before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered in the game against the Rams. He had 4.5 sacks as a rookie last season but none in his four games this year.
Rookie linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) was designated to return from injured reserve before the bye. The Giants must activate him before the end of this week or he will revert to season-ending injured reserve.
Dixon, Kreiter cleared
The Giants’ defense was not the only unit bolstered by roster moves Monday. Punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter were activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, giving the team back two of its three key specialists ahead of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati.
The two were placed on the list because of contact with a person who had tested positive, presumably kicker Graham Gano, who remains on the reserve list. Judge said last week that there is a chance Gano will be cleared for the game against the Bengals, but he also expressed confidence in kicker Ryan Santoso, who was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster as a replacement.
Four players remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive in the past week: Gano, offensive tackle Matt Peart, tight end Kaden Smith and wide receiver Dante Pettis.