EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants rookie safety Xavier McKinney is expected to be activated from injured reserve later today and make his NFL debut Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, sources told ESPN.
The second-round pick had his 21-day window to be activated from injured reserve opened on 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, could also get back rookie linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines (shoulder). 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 Wednesday in pads 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.”
‘I just knew it wasn’t my time’ Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham recounts serious spring car accident
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham admitted on Tuesday that he was fortunate to avoid serious injury after being involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Miami back in early March.
Prior to the start of Chicago’s mandatory three-day minicamp, Graham calmly recanted the harrowing story of how, on the day of the accident, he had to swerve to avoid a disabled car in the center lane of the highway as he and his dog, Ginger, were taking an early morning drive to the airport.
“I was on the turnpike and I saw a cop going kind of down this off-ramp with his lights off, he was reversing, so I got over two lanes and the sun is kind of coming up,” Graham said on Zoom. “So as I’m going over [a] hill I look up and there is a disabled vehicle in the center lane, and I’m going about 90 MPH. Probably about 15 yards away [from the disabled car], I swerved to the left and barely missed him but I was headed for a bridge so I kind of had to make a last-minute decision so I decided to turn right, and flip it to avoid jumping that [bridge].
“I ended up rolling – the cop said four times – and skidded on the roof for about 100 yards. It was a wild one.”
Both Graham and Ginger walked away from the wreck unscathed, but the end result could have been much worse.
“I was talking to the cop, right after the accident, and talking to my mechanic, and it really felt like a game. Everything was really slow. I can remember making every decision. I can actually remember my phone floating up in the air – I could see the time. I just knew it wasn’t my time. I was like there is no way I’m going die over something this stupid.
“But obviously I was extremely lucky.”
Graham, who was not found to be at fault, expressed gratitude to the police officers and first responders who arrived quickly on the scene.
Graham, 34, had 50 catches for 456 yards and eight touchdowns for the Bears last year. The five-time Pro Bowl selection is entering his second season with Chicago.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley says he feels no pressure to replace traded Julio Jones
Calvin Ridley is the Atlanta Falcons‘ No. 1 receiver now, and even though he’ll be replacing a franchise legend in traded-to-Tennessee Julio Jones, Ridley said Tuesday that he feels “no pressure” stepping into the role once held by a likely future Hall of Famer.
Part of the reason is Ridley’s confidence in his own play, something harnessed over the past three years playing alongside Jones with Atlanta. And some of it comes from playing without Jones for half of last season, when hamstring injuries sidelined the former Falcons star.
“I played with Julio, Mohamed Sanu, since Day 1, those guys, I feel like I’ve been moving toward that way of I can do it by myself,” Ridley said. “Obviously I’m not by myself, we have other players who are really good, but I feel like I’ve been ready and I just needed an opportunity to get in those positions.”
Ridley, who was drafted at No. 26 by the Falcons in the 2018 draft, blossomed last season with career highs in targets (143), receptions (90) and yards (1,374). He also had nine touchdowns, one off the 10 he had in his rookie season.
The 26-year-old showed he can handle being Atlanta’s top option. He showed he can handle double-teams — he said he’s seen them since the 2019 season — as he started to display his abilities as one of the top receivers in the NFL.
He did it last season playing at least partially hurt. Ridley had “minor” foot surgery this offseason stemming from an injury he suffered during the 2020 season. He’s been at the team’s facility rehabbing, working out and going through walkthroughs — essentially everything except practicing — and said he believes “I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready” for the start of Atlanta’s training camp in July.
When he does return to the field, he’ll bring with him lessons learned from playing with Jones. Every week they played together, Ridley tried to outdo Jones. He used it as motivation and a way to improve just by looking within his own position group.
With Jones gone, Ridley is looking for someone else to give him that kind of motivation — he suggested, maybe joking, maybe not, he might use quarterback Matt Ryan as that — and knows he might provide similar motivation to Atlanta’s other receivers as well.
But for him, it’s about confidence. It’s why Ridley is able to play the way he does. He believes in his game, in his skill and in his ability to beat defenders. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also something he received from Jones.
“Just the confidence [Jones] has every week and being the No. 1 receiver and going out to work every day, I feel like you have to believe in yourself,” Ridley said. “And by my second year, that’s when I realized that’s what he’s all about, confidence.
“So when I realized that, I just started to think that, I didn’t think that I’m better than him, but I just believed in myself and I really think that made me a better player. I really believe in myself.”
One question will be how Ridley is used in first-year head coach Arthur Smith’s offense. Ridley said he’s still figuring that out — the Falcons haven’t put on pads yet — but he likes what he has seen thus far from Smith and what could happen with the offense.
Smith said that once Ridley starts to practice, he’ll have a better idea of where he’ll use the receiver in the offense but that he’s been pleased with how Ridley has picked things up so far — even though he hasn’t been able to actually practice.
The Falcons liked Ridley enough to pick up his fifth-year option for 2022 in May, a sign of how integral they might view him over at least the next two seasons.
“He had a really productive year. Calvin has been a really good player here so far,” Smith said. “Best days are hopefully ahead of him. I’ve been impressed with Calvin, both the person and the player. I’m excited to get to work with him.”
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb says he wants to stay with team when contract ends
“It would mean a lot,” said Chubb, who said that his agent and the team have already discussed a potential extension this offseason. “Cleveland drafted me and trusted me and put their faith in me to help build this culture and this team I’m a part of. Cleveland is where I want to be. Hopefully everything can work out in that direction.”
Chubb, a second-round pick in 2018, has been the backbone of the Browns offense the last two seasons, averaging 5.25 yards per carry during that span.
In 2019, he came within 47 yards of besting Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry for the rushing title. Last season, Chubb missed four games due to a knee injury, but still finished seventh in the league with 1,070 yards on the ground, as Cleveland made the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Chubb has been especially efficient late in games. Last season, he led the NFL with an average of more than 10 yards per carry in the fourth quarter.
Chubb said that his supporting cast, which includes one of the top offensive lines in the league, as well as coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-heavy offense are among the reasons why he prefers to stay in Cleveland.
“I don’t like uncertainty,” Chubb said. “I know here in Cleveland what I have, the players and coaches and the city of Cleveland. Cleveland is where I want to be. That’s my main focus.”
Last summer, the Browns extended Chubb’s backfield sidekick Kareem Hunt to a two-year extension worth $13.25 million, keeping Hunt under contract in Cleveland through the 2022 season.
The Browns, who are holding their mandatory minicamp this week, have two other key players they drafted in 2018 who are extension eligible this summer in quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward. Cleveland has already picked up the fifth-year options on Mayfield and Ward, which will keep them under contract at least through the 2022 season.
Ward, a Pro Bowl performer in 2018, said Tuesday that his agent and the Browns have begun talking about an extension, as well.
“In a perfect world,” Ward said, “I’d definitely want to be a Brown for the rest of my career.”
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