EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Xavier McKinney returned to practice Thursday, it opened a 21-day window in which the Giants could activate him or keep him on a reserve list for the remainder of the season.
They needed just two days.
The Giants added the third-year safety to their active roster for the first time in two months. The Giants will attempt to clinch a playoff berth against the Indianapolis Colts in MetLife Stadium.
McKinney practiced Thursday, Friday and participated in Saturday's light workout. Although coach Brian Daboll said before practice that McKinney would "probably not" play Sunday, it's clear McKinney showed enough to the team's medical staff and coaches that playing him against the Colts became a consideration.
In a corresponding move, the Giants released wide receiver David Sills, who has been on their practice squad or active roster since 2019. This season, he played in nine games with five starts and caught 11 passes for 106 yards. Sills had career-high totals of three receptions for 37 yards against Carolina on Sept. 18. He was inactive or did not play in six of the last seven games and played just one snap in the 20-20 tie with Washington on Dec. 4.
The Giants also elevated tight end Chris Myarick and defensive back Zyon Gilbert from the practice squad to the active roster for the game.
McKinney has been on the reserve/non-football injury list since Nov. 7, five days after he fractured fingers on his left hand in a bye week "Can-Am" accident in Cano San Lucas, Mexico. He underwent surgery when he returned to New Jersey.
McKinney has missed seven games since he last played when the Giants visited Seattle on Oct. 30. When he was sidelined two weeks later against Houston, he had started 23 consecutive games, had not missed a snap since Week 3 of the 2021 season and had participated in 1,432 consecutive plays, then the longest active streak by an NFL defender.
Four-year veteran Julian Love assumed McKinney's signal-calling duties in the defensive huddle. Rookie Dane Belton started the first two games in McKinney's absence, but Jason Pinnock played 93.8% of the snaps at free safety the previous five games, including all 72 last week in Minnesota.
McKinney is one of the Giants' team captains and best defensive players. The Giants were 6-2 when he was injured and are 2-4-1 since. He was fourth on the team with 37 tackles (24 solo) and third with four passes defensed at the time of his injury. The Giants allowed an average of 208.4 passing yards through the first eight games. Since McKinney was sidelined, they've given up an average of 234.3 yards in the last seven contests.
While he was on the NFI list, McKinney regularly attended meetings and was on the sideline helping and supporting his teammates during games. He is wearing a protective splint on his left hand.
"I've missed a lot of weeks," McKinney said Thursday after his first practice. "Obviously, I love the game, so I'm trying to get back out there. That's what I do and that's what I love to do, so I'm trying to get back out there."
Myarick has played in all 15 games this season, with eight starts, and has 10 receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. He was waived Wednesday when the Giants signed guard Wyatt Davis, and signed to the practice squad the following day.
Gilbert, a rookie free agent, has spent the entire season on the practice squad. This is his maximum third elevation of the season. He made his NFL debut vs. Washington on Dec. 4 and played the following week vs. Philadelphia. Gilbert has eight tackles (six solo), including a 10-yard sack vs. the Eagles, and four special teams tackles.
The 8-6-1 Giants will clinch the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs with a victory tomorrow against the 4-10-1 Colts. It would be the Giants' first postseason berth since 2016.
View photos of the New York Giants' 2022 roster as it currently stands.