Giants’ Bobby Okereke, Xavier McKinney only two NFL defenders who have played 100% of snaps entering Week 18

Giants safety Xavier McKinney and linebacker Bobby Okereke are the last men standing with an impressive streak of NFL durability.

The captains are the only two defensive players in the NFL who have played 100% of their team’s snaps entering Week 18’s regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I definitely take pride in that,” McKinney, 24, said Thursday. “I always want to make sure I’m available and playing to a high standard for the guys in this locker room and organization.”

Okereke echoed that sentiment.

“I take pride in it,” Okereke, 27, said. “I just love this team, I love the game of football, and I do everything I can to be out there with my teammates.”

The Giants’ defense has played a total of 1,063 snaps. McKinney and Okereke have been on the field for every one. The official number of plays executed is 1,026, per NFL NextGen Stats, when factoring in plays that didn’t count due to penalties or some other factor.

Either way it’s beyond impressive, especially with NFL teams now playing 17 games in the regular season. McKinney, who bounced back from a fractured hand last season, attributed his durability to his practice habits.

“What helps is the way I practice, how hard I practice, how I take every rep seriously, how I always try to improve and work on different parts of my game,” he said. “I think that definitely helps when we get in games. My body has already performed at a high level in practice, so I’m used to it in a game. It’s not like it’s a shock to my body. I think that helps a lot.”

Okereke said he arrives around 7 a.m. at the Giants’ facility daily to complete an “activation, recovery and stretch” routine that prepares his body. He played through a broken rib, broken pinky and ailing hip for parts of this season along the way.

“The way I see physical therapy and activation and treatment for my body, it’s like buying insurance,” he said. “You could say it’s money wasted or time wasted, but when a potential injury happens — I just try to put myself in the best position to stay healthy.”

The Giants still have one game left. Okereke knew enough to knock on wood.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t had too significant injuries to keep me off the field or had my helmet break or any freak accident where I gotta come off to the sideline and come back for a play,” he said with a smile.

Either way, being the last defenders standing in the entire league is an accomplishment.


Kayvon Thibodeaux has 11.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season, compared to 4.5 sacks and six tackles for loss last year. The Giants have gained +72.3% in win probability on his sacks this season, too, which makes them the fourth-most impactful in the league behind only the Jaguars’ Josh Allen (+91.6%), the Browns’ Myles Garrett (+82.4%) and the SteelersAlex Highsmith (+81.4%).

But Thibodeaux has been extremely quiet the last three weeks. He had one tackle and no pressures against the Saints. He had no tackles, one QB hit and two pressures against the Eagles. And he had two tackles and two pressures against the Rams.

“I feel like I’ve played pretty good,” Thibodeaux said Thursday. “We only got one left to try to keep winning. The season didn’t go as planned. But we gotta keep making the best of it, keep putting good stuff on tape.”

Thibodeaux has generated zero pressures in four games this season in Weeks 1, 9, 10 and 15, per NFL NextGen Stats. He also has a lower pressure rate this season (8.8%) than last year (12.3%), and 11 of his 41 pressures have come when he’s been unblocked.

The former No. 5 overall pick humbly gave Pro Bowl teammate Dexter Lawrence credit for his 11.5 sacks, saying Lawrence is a “constant force in the middle.”

“I’m happy to be on the field with him and reap the benefits of that,” Thibodeaux said.

But it’d be nice to see Thibodeaux be a difference-maker one more time on Sunday to set a good tone heading into year three.

“We just wanna win games,” Thibodeaux said. “Me personally, it’s just about still having mental toughness and showing you can stay strong through tough times.”


Linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a Joe Schoen trade acquisition in late August, told the Daily News he has loved playing in Wink Martindale’s multiple, pressure-heavy scheme.

“He lets you do everything,” Simmons said of Martindale. “I’ve played on the line, at nickel [corner], safety, linebacker — everywhere. Wink allows me to use my skill set to my best ability in ways that help the team each week.”

Martindale has used Simmons, Arizona’s eighth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, selectively but smartly to play to his strengths on 32% of the Giants’ defensive snaps.

The athletic hybrid returned a 54-yard pick-6 TD to close out Washington in a Week 11 road win. He has started the last two games on defense. And he sacked Rams QB Matthew Stafford late in last Sunday’s fourth quarter to give the Giants offense the ball back for what should have been the game-winning drive.

Simmons said “before everything gets set in stone” each week, Martindale “runs everything past me, and normally I’m pretty open to everything. I really think it’s a testament to his trust he has in me as a player and being able to execute what needs to be done.”

Simmons said it’s his job to hit the calls and blitzes in practice to give Martindale confidence to make the calls in games. The trust they have built has revealed a good scheme fit for Simmons, who will be an unrestricted free agent this spring.


Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson always talks about safety Dane Belton as one of the smartest players he’s ever coached.

Belton ball-hawked the Rams for three turnovers last Sunday. He received praise from coach Brian Daboll for hustling downfield to prevent Puka Nacua from scoring a touchdown. And he’s in line to start Sunday in place of Jason Pinnock (toe), who is out against the Eagles.

Belton said it was nice to “play almost a full game” and “get a rhythm going” against the Rams, although he obviously didn’t want it to happen at a teammate’s expense.

“It shows how I can play at this level,” the former fourth-round pick said.


Daboll said Saquon Barkley will receive a full workload in Sunday’s finale. Barkley has 916 rushing yards entering the last game of the year, so he has a chance to reach 1,000 … Giants right tackles Evan Neal (left ankle) and Tyre Phillips (right quad) had surgeries on Tuesday for their season-ending injuries … Quarterback Daniel Jones was seen on the side of the practice field alongside rehabbing tight end Lawrence Cager on the final day of practice.


Out: Safety Jason Pinnock (toe). Doubtful: CB Deonte Banks (shoulder). Questionable: C John Michael Schmitz (shin). Three other players were limited in practice but weren’t on the final injury report: QB Tyrod Taylor (back), LB Carter Coughlin (shoulder) and CB Darnay Holmes (foot).


Out: WR DeVonta Smith (ankle), CB Darius Slay (knee). Questionable: RB D’Andre Swift (illness).