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New York Giants rookie S Xavier McKinney comes off IR, to make NFL debut

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants rookie safety Xavier McKinney has been activated off injured reserve Saturday and make his NFL debut Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced.

The second-round pick had his 21-day window to be activated from injured reserve opened Monday. He had a strong week of practice and convinced the Giants he would be ready for this week.

"I'm definitely ready to go. I feel good," McKinney said after Friday's practice. "Like I said, I've been progressing each day. Everything has been good."

The Giants (3-7), who are in the mix to win the NFC East, will also get rookie linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) back from injured reserve. Kicker Graham Gano was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Outside linebacker Oshane Ximines (shoulder), who returned to practice Monday along with McKinney, will undergo surgery Monday to repair his right rotator cuff and will not return this season. Both Crowder and Ximines were starters prior to landing on injured reserve.

Coach Joe Judge said he was "encouraged" with the way McKinney moved around this week, but wanted to see how he looked Friday before making a decision.

McKinney, the 36th overall pick out of Alabama, broke his foot this summer. He underwent surgery in late August and was given a timetable of three months to return from the injury.

McKinney will likely be eased into the lineup this week in Cincinnati, with the Giants sprinkling him in for certain packages. McKinney practiced in pads Wednesday for the first time since the summer.

"We can't put too much on him," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said on Friday afternoon.

Prior to the injury, McKinney was set to be the Giants' third safety to start the season. He will likely fill a similar role against the Bengals, with Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan remaining the starters at safety.

McKinney said he will play wherever needed. He can adjust. That is the versatility he should bring to the Giants defense.

"The thing that we saw in training camp and what we saw on tape -- good athlete, smart player, situationally aware," Graham said. "The thing is, he's been grinding this whole time. Unfortunately for him, it's been in the classroom. I feel bad for him. Now with the chance to possibly play, the thing he brings, he's a good football player out there.

"That's the simple way to put it, with some position flex. This guy can play in the deep part of the field. He can play down low. He can play all over the field. It's always good to have those pieces."