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Xavier McKinney returns to Giants practise and hopes to play against the Colts on Sunday.

Giants provide free safety. Xavier McKinney returned to practise Thursday with a splint on his surgically repaired left hand and said he hopes to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday (4-10-1).

“Man, I want to come back big time,” McKinney said, smiling. “It’s just up to the staff and our trainers and docs. I’m in good spirits. I am confident. They know I’m desperate to return, and I’m running out of patience here. It’s what I enjoy doing. “I’m working hard to get back out there.”

McKinney also expressed gratitude to the Giants organisation for its assistance following his off-roading accident in Cabo in early November.

“The support they’ve shown me has been fantastic,” he said. “I’ve even told them I appreciate it, because it didn’t have to go that way. I am truly grateful for that, and I thank them for their unwavering support throughout the process.”

Brian Daboll was less optimistic about McKinney’s availability for Sunday’s game, when the Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

“I’m not sure,” the coach admitted.

The Giants did nothing more than designate McKinney for return from injured reserve on Thursday. This creates a 21-day window for McKinney to be activated to the active roster when he is ready. He began by practising scout team defence.

“I think the first step is to just let him get out here and move around,” Daboll said. “He hasn’t played in a long time. He has a device to protect his hand. So I’m thinking we’ll start [his clock]. He’s been on the move and rehabbing. His lower body is obviously in good shape. So we’ll give him some practise time and see where he ends up.”

McKinney, on the other hand, insisted that he is prepared. His broken bones in his left hand, he claims, have healed. He doesn’t think any more X-rays or images are needed to clear him. At practise, he was running at a team-high 20.5 miles per hour.

“My legs still work,” McKinney said, smirking.

McKinney also stated that he caught high-velocity footballs from the JUGS machine and made frequent contact with teammates. His four fingers were taped together, with a splint underneath, and his thumb was unattached.

He claims that the only thing he can’t do with that hand is grab someone, but he’s not concerned that it provides less protection than a club. He would play with that splint in a game.

“It held up pretty well,” he said.

McKinney has missed the last seven games for the Giants due to an off-roading accident in Cabo during the team’s Week 9 bye. He claimed to have broken “a couple fingers” and underwent surgery on November 8. Since his injury, the team has gone 2-4-1.

McKinney’s hand was severely swollen for several weeks, with several pins in the bones on the back of his palm as the Giants took their time with his rehabilitation.

It would be nice to have him back, but Jason Pinnock’s emergence and impressive play in McKinney’s absence may allow Daboll to err on the side of caution and keep his starter on the bench until Week 18 or the playoffs.

It was also difficult to assess McKinney’s performance by speaking with teammates such as corner Adoree Jackson, who has missed the Giants’ last five games due to a sprained MCL in his knee.

“He can move, I mean,” Jackson said of McKinney. “All he did was break his hand.”

McKinney expressed optimism that he will be cleared soon after he and the Giants collaborated to ensure that his accident did not become a bigger problem for either of them.

“I don’t think it was a surprise because, honestly, in my opinion, I’ve done a lot of things they’ve asked even before,” he said of their collaborative efforts to find a solution. “As a result, I wasn’t surprised by how they handled the situation. We were honest with one another. I believe that having those conversations with each other and reaching agreements on various issues is always the most important thing.”

Right tackle rookie Last Saturday, Evan Neal was not the only Giants offensive lineman who struggled in pass protection against a Minnesota Vikings pass rush led by Danielle Hunter (two sacks).

However, the No. 7 overall pick is an important building block, and having difficult games is a foreign concept to such a talented former Alabama standout. So I wanted to see how Neal had handled the ups and downs.

He told the Daily News on Wednesday that while watching the film, he noticed some errors.

“I need to keep moving my feet, trust my hands, and punch,” he explained.

He did, however, defend his own and the offensive line’s overall performance.

“There were times when the defence held up and Daniel drove the ball down the field,” Neal explained.

He is completely correct. The pass defence improved in the second half. Daniel Jones threw for 334 yards, and the Giants racked up 445 yards on offence, a season high. So the line did more than one thing correctly.

Neal has also played some excellent football. A poor early-season performance against the Cowboys and a sprained MCL in the middle of the season haven’t stopped him from making an impact.

He also demonstrated in Minnesota that he has a short memory, allowing him to recover from some bad plays in order to make good ones, which is a good sign for a developing player.

“There’s no time to harp on it in games because you’ll lose the next play if you’re worried about the last,” Neal explained. He stated that his process is to keep working and improving.

Inside linebacker Jaylon Smith will have a “vet day” on Thursday, according to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. That happened to be the first practise for new ILB Jarrad Davis with the team. Davis, who was signed off the Lions’ practise squad, could play on Sunday. Smith appears to be injured, despite not being listed on the injury report.

“Jaylon’s playing well,” said Martindale. “He’s our first and second down linebacker. He’s doing well. We’re taking him to the vet today. I believe the season’s wear and tear is catching up with him a little. But you can see it. We’ll play whoever we think is best, get them in there, and go.”

INJURY REPORT FOR THE GIANTS: CB Jackson (knee), DL Leonard Williams (neck), and OLB Azeez Ojulari are all out (ankle). Complete: DL Lawrence, Dexter (rested Wednesday).

INJURY REPORT FOR THE COLTS: CB did not participate in practise. Kenny Moore II (ankle), Ashton Dulin (concussion), and Kylen Granson (TE) are all out (ankle). Full: S McLeod, Rodney Jr. (rested Wednesday).

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