Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Xavier McKinney return after COVID-19 false-positives

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The New York Giants will welcome back running back Saquon Barkley and safety Xavier McKinney on Friday, two days after the pair (and many others) tested positive for COVID-19.

Barkley and McKinney were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week after testing positive for the virus. However, the Giants had a slew of false-positives over the course of several days, forcing them to temporarily halt the use of the Rapid Mesa Test.

“As a precautionary measure, we canceled in-facility meetings for players this morning and closed our office to non-football staff. Football meetings are being conducted virtually. Players, unless their test results are still being assessed under COVID protocols, will return this afternoon for practice,” the team said in a statement.

“Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRL) is experiencing an unusually high number of false positives using the Rapid Mesa Test at our facility. With the exception of one individual, all of the positive Mesa test results over the last two days have come back negative through PCR testing. The laboratory is working with experts to determine the source of the problem.

“The NFL and BRL are monitoring this situation closely. We are temporarily halting the use of the Rapid Mesa Test and administering PCR tests only.”

Although Barkley will return to the field on Friday, the false-positive shortened his rehab cycle this week and may ultimately cost him a chance to play in Week 9.

“I know a lot of times we have to see how they really move and not having [Barkley] available to be here with the trainers on a regular basis and kind of seeing if we can get him into practice, I would say [him playing on Sunday is] something we wouldn’t eliminate at this point based on where he’s at physically, but I couldn’t say that it’s moving in a direction to give us a definite answer in a positive way,” Judge told reporters.

“Again, we’ll see where he’s at. I would say with all these tests, all but one has come back as negative. We’ re actually getting a lot of players back who tested positive [Thursday] morning and then re-tested negative that we’re getting back in before practice.”

The Giants also placed rookie running back Gary Brightwell on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, but like Barkley and McKinney, it’s anticipated that his test was a false-positive.

Running backs coach Burton Burns remains the only true positive in East Rutherford as of Friday morning, and he has been isolated from the team. Freddie Kitchens and Jody Wright will coach the running backs in his place this week.