EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today bolstered their defense and special teams with a series of roster moves in advance of their game tomorrow against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Two rookies – linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney – were activated from the team's injured reserve list. Kicker Graham Gano was activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 list. And rookie defensive end Niko Lalos was a standard elevation from the practice squad.
Crowder, one of the Giants' four seventh-round draft choices this year, played in five of the team's first six games, starting two. He made 17 tackles (nine solo), but his most significant contribution was the game-deciding touchdown he scored on a 43-yard fumble return in the victory against Washington on Oct. 18.
But Crowder hasn't played since that game. He injured his hamstring, went on I.R. and missed four games.
McKinney will make his NFL debut in Cincinnati. The team's second-round draft choice this year, he has been on injured reserve since Sept. 6, having been placed there following surgery to repair a fractured foot he suffered in training camp. McKinney is expected to join a safety rotation that includes veterans Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan and second-year man Julian Love.
In three seasons at the University of Alabama, McKinney played in 41 games with starts in each of his last 28 games and totaled 176 tackles (108 solo), including 13 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, five interceptions – returning two for touchdowns - 20 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Gano's 79 points place him ninth among NFL kickers. He has made 21 of 22 field goal attempts this season, missing only a 57-yard try in Chicago in Week 2. Gano has made 20 consecutive attempts, the NFL's second-longest active streak behind Seattle's Jason Myers (23). He is also tied with Aldrick Rosas for the second-longest streak in Giants history, nine behind Josh Brown.
View photos of Giants kicker Graham Gano in action
Lalos has spent the entire season on the Giants' practice squad. He was signed as rookie free agent from Dartmouth on April 27, waived at the end of training camp on Sept. 5 and signed to the practice squad the following day.
In 2019, Lalos was selected first-team All-Ivy League after posting career-high totals of 35 tackles (21 solo), 10 stops for loss and 5.5 sacks. He was chosen his team's MVP at the Hula Bowl after notching two sacks and a forced fumble.
*The transaction news was not all positive. Second-year linebacker Oshane Ximines will undergo surgery Monday to repair his right rotator cuff. Ximines, who has been on injured reserve since Oct. 9, returned to practice with McKinney on Monday.
Ximines played in the season's first four games, starting three. He registered five tackles (four solo) and three quarterback hits. Ximines was injured in the Giants' loss to the Rams in Los Angeles on Oct. 4.
Each of the Giants' starting outside linebackers at the beginning of the season has suffered injuries that required surgery. Lorenzo Carter, who started the first five games, suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Dallas a week after Ximines was hurt. Carter underwent surgery and is out for the season.
In 2019, Carter and Ximines tied for second on the Giants with 4.5 sacks.