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Notebook: Adoree' Jackson on track to return

ADOREE-JACKSON-XAVIER-MCKINNEY

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants had no players listed as out, doubtful or questionable on their final injury report, all but assuring that cornerback Adoree' Jackson will make his long-awaited return Sunday in Minnesota in the NFC Wild Card Game.

Jackson, the team's best and most experienced cornerback, has been sidelined since injuring his knee against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 20. He was listed as a full practice participant today for the first since then.

"I've been antsy since the Detroit game – since I went out and wanted to go back in, but knew I couldn't," Jackson said Wednesday. "The antsy-ness, I don't think it ever goes away. Even if somebody retired from playing ball, whatever it may be, they're always going to have the urge to go out there. I feel like I'm always going to be antsy, but being smart with it, not wanting to not just hurt myself, but hurt my team in any situation."

Jackson was asked then if he had to pass tests before getting clearance to play.

"Yeah, tests for the coaches," he said. "They always say they don't want to put you out there if you can hurt yourself or hurt the team. So, we just keep going week by week to see how I look and how they feel about me being out there."

Before practice and the release of the injury report, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson was asked what Jackson would bring to the defense.

"If he does play, his energy, his confidence, his ability to go out there and be on the grass for us is big," Henderson said. "The guys who've played in his absence have played really well, too. So, if we get him back, I'm super excited. But if he's not back, we're going to line up and play and give them our best shot."

A six-year veteran with six postseason starts in his career, Jackson will rejoin a Giants secondary that also includes safety Xavier McKinney, another top player who missed the 27-24 loss to the Vikings three weeks ago. They are vital additions to a group that will be challenged by wide receivers Justin Jefferson, the NFL leader in catches and receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809) and a unanimous first-team All-Pro; Adam Thielen; and K.J. Osborn, plus tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Jefferson and Hockenson combined for 25 receptions and three touchdowns in the first meeting.

"(Jefferson is) a good player, a great player," Jackson said. "I think for us, we just try to control what we can control. It's about your alignment, your technique, doing your job. And you know the other guys will do a good job next to you. It's a collective, a scheme to handling Jefferson. He's a great player."

"I played him in college so I know all the things that he can do," said McKinney, who faced Jefferson when he was at Alabama and the receiver was at LSU. "He can singlehandedly take over a game, I've seen it, I've played against it before in college and I've seen it in the league a lot of times, everybody has. He's just a special route runner, catches a lot of crazy catches as y'all said before, and he's just a tough match up when he's going against anybody. You've got to make sure that you're on your p's and q's when you're facing him. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we'll be prepared and be ready."

Thielen (70) and Osborn and Hockenson (60 each) made Minnesota just the fourth team in NFL history with four receivers with at least 60 catches apiece.

"Hockenson is one of the best tight ends in the league and it showed last time we played him," said McKinney, who missed seven games with a hand injury. "He's a really good tight end, so we've just got to be prepared. I've got to be prepared to be able to have that matchup against him. I'm excited for it, it's going to be fun. I'll be ready."

View photos from practice as the Giants get ready for their Wild Card matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

*In addition to Jackson, five players who were limited yesterday practiced fully today: defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck), linebacker Azeez Ojulari (ankle), tackle Evan Neal (ankle), safety Jason Pinnock (shoulder) and wide receiver Marcus Johnson (knee).

*The Vikings listed one of their top defenders, safety Harrison Smith, as questionable with a knee injury. He's been limited in practice all week. Running back Kene Nwangwu (illness) and cornerback Cam Dantzler (ankle/personal matter) are also questionable.

*Giants defensive line coach Andre Patterson held the same position with the Vikings from 2014-21. He said "there's no question" Minnesota's ultra-loud domed stadium gives the home team an advantage.

"I think they put on the best show in the league as far as before the game, all of the videos and the horns going off and the 'Skol' chant and all that," he said. "It's almost like a college atmosphere. But if you embrace it as an opponent, it juices you up, too. That's what we've talked to our guys about."

Patterson is looking forward to another return to Minnesota.

"It's great," he said. "The fans. A lot of people in that front office are good friends of mine. A lot of those players I think very highly of. I have no bad thoughts about Minnesota. It's not a revenge game for me. It's just another football game that we've got to go win. But I have a lot of good thoughts and feelings about my time in Minnesota,

"I know the majority of those guys. I was there for eight years. So, all those guys they're putting in there are good players. And if we don't play our best, they'll beat us. That's just the truth of the matter. Most of those guys they drafted, I sat in the draft meetings and heard the write ups on them. I saw them every day in practice. So, they're good players. And they're going to play their best. And if we don't play our best, we won't win."

*U.S. Bank Stadium is not a favorite of visiting teams, but you'll never hear Graham Gano complain about it.

"I never hate kicking in a dome," Gano said. "I love kicking in domes. It's perfect conditions, especially when it's freezing cold outside, being able to go in there and know it's going to be consistently the same temperature. It's exciting for a specialist. At the end of the day, you've just got to go out there and perform. Whether it's outside in MetLife or in a dome, you have to be at your best."

*Saquon Barkley will be among the 30 or so Giants who will make their postseason debuts Sunday. Running backs coach DeAndre Smith said Barkley's excitement has been conspicuous this week.

"He can't sit still, which is awesome to see," Smith said. "He understands the moment, taking advantage of it. Those are the things that I can see from the very second that we got back on the field on Wednesday to just kind of get around him. And we didn't have to say a whole lot. Once they got on the field, you could just feel it. They had a little bit extra pep in their step, which is understandable, because it's a great accomplishment that those guys are taking advantage of. Now, we're just going to keep it going."

View rare photos of the Giants' history playing on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

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