Xavier McKinney answered all questions Thursday by saying some version of “we’re all just trying to win games.”
But how to win games is the one answer that McKinney and the rest of the Giants (2-8) don’t seem to have.
Speaking to reporters in a team setting for the first time since he questioned defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s willingness to consider player input into adjustments after a 30-6 loss to the Raiders on Nov. 5, McKinney kept falling back on the same refrain.
McKinney previously said he was finished doing interviews this season.
He wound up borrowing a page out of Marshawn Lynch’s old “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” playbook for complying with NFL media availability rules.
Asked about Martindale admittedly feeling confused and hurt by criticisms of what he called a one-play situation, McKinney replied, “Who do we play this week? Oh, Washington. I’m just trying to win. It’s that simple.”
Did his teammates have his back through controversy? Are the outside stories becoming a distraction? Is not being under contract beyond this season bothering him?
All drew the same response from one of the Giants’ nine co-captains — and typically one of the most insightful players in the locker room.
McKinney, who has played every defensive snap this season, said on Nov. 7 at a charity event that he and Martindale were back on the same page.
But that was before Martindale revealed more details about the in-game conversation.
The only time that McKinney broke from stonewall mold Thursday was when it was suggested that head coach Brian Daboll did not bench him or hand down another noticeable penalty for his comments.
“Was I supposed to be benched?” McKinney asked indignantly. “I’m just trying to win games.”
QB Tommy DeVito (left shoulder), McKinney (rib), S Jason Pinnock (thumb/ankle) and DT Dexter Lawrence (rest) were upgraded to full participants in Thursday’s practice.
WR Jalin Hyatt (concussion) and OLB Kayvon Thiobodeaux (concussion) were upgraded to non-contact limited participants and could be in line to clear the NFL-regulated protocol in time to play Sunday against the Commanders.
ILB Bobby Okereke (hip) was upgraded to limited. OLB Azeez Ojulari (ankle) was added as limited.
CB Adoree’ Jackson (concussion) and RT Evan Neal (ankle) did not practice.
K Cade York has been a healthy scratch for the last two games, while practice-squad elevation Randy Bullock handles field goals and kickoffs.
“Cade’s working through some things with his swing, but he’s getting better,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “He has a very strong leg, very talented and he has a lot of upside.”
York was a fourth-round draft pick by the Browns out of LSU in 2022 but was cut after one inconsistent season.
“All these young kickers all go through the same process: They’re all trying to figure out who they are, [adjust to] different stadiums,” McGaughey said. “In the SEC, you don’t see the same type of wind patterns and the weather that you see up here. So, he made some adjustments in Cleveland, and I think now he’s trying to work back through some things.”