Giants' Xavier McKinney comes up big vs. Raiders after tumultuous week

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Xavier McKinney interceptions Raiders cropped 11/7/2021
Xavier McKinney interceptions Raiders cropped 11/7/2021

A couple of days ago, it looked like Xavier McKinney wouldn’t even play on Sunday for the Giants due to a positive COVID-19 test. But after it was revealed that McKinney, among several other players, had a false positive, the 36th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft suited up against the Las Vegas Raiders.

And the Giants are sure glad he did.

McKinney had two interceptions -- including one that went for six points -- in the team’s 23-16 win over the Raiders. His two interceptions on the day matched his season total.

“I think he’s a smart player,” said quarterback Daniel Jones. “I think he understands what quarterbacks are doing. It was good reading eyes, good reading in his coverage and he makes a lot of plays back there.”

What makes Sunday’s performance even more remarkable is that, because of the COVID-19 uncertainty throughout the days, McKinney did it without a full week of practice.

However, he didn’t let it deter his focus.

“It was a long week,” McKinney said. “Obviously, I didn’t get to practice those two days, but I was still in meetings. Just tried to stay locked in. Obviously, earlier in the week, I didn’t know really what was going to happen as far as if I was going to be able to play or not. Just tried to stay locked in throughout the week.”

After the loss of Jabrill Peppers, the Giants needed somebody in the secondary to step up and McKinney answered the bell. To go along with his two interceptions, the 22-year-old also had four total tackles, tied for second on the team behind Logan Ryan and Tae Crowder.

With his huge performance and under a team-friendly contract through 2024, McKinney may have just solidified himself as a stalwart in the Giants secondary for years to come.

The Giants will figure that out in due time, but for one day, at least, the Alabama product proved to the city of New York why they took him in the second round of the draft.

“He’s obviously got tremendous physical skills and he’s a smart player,” Jones said. “Played big time today, for sure.”