Xavier McKinney doesn't want to take credit for playing every defensive snap this season, even though there are only three other NFL players who can make the same claim.
“I'm different than most guys. That's what people have to understand about me,” the Giants safety said. “That's what I have to do. Trophies aren't what I need.”
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson both emphasized this week that McKinney has reached a new level over the past three games, but that was an adjustment based on player feedback against the Raiders. After criticizing Martindale for not doing so. He recorded 33 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery during the 2-1 game, moving him up to No. 9 in the NFL's safety rankings by Pro Football Focus.
“He’s really settled in and his production has been great for us,” Henderson said. “He's starting to find the ball, which is something he's been doing early in his career. I think he's starting to do that because of how hard he works and how important it is to him. I hope he continues to play like that.”
It's easy to assume that McKinnie's recent surge is the result of the soon-to-be free agent trying to inflate his next contract. But that's an insult to the impact the two-time co-captain had when he was healthy in the first three-plus years of his career, and how personally obsessed he is with winning and losing. It will be.
“Money doesn't mean much to me,” McKinney told the Post. “Playing this game, I got involved, and my goal is to [Hall of Fame] gold jacket. It wasn't about making the most money. I want to become a great player. There will also be a money component. Don't worry about contracts. I'm concerned about playing the best I can, so when my time is up, I'll be remembered as one of the best players ever. That's what I want to achieve. ”
The Giants alternated McKinney and first-year starter Jason Pinnock in the roles of two safeties. McKinney added another layer of disguise to Martindale's defense, playing at least 50 snaps at four different spots for a total of 796.
“If you're in the right spot, you can make a lot of plays,” McKinney said. “When I can move around and use all my abilities — nickel plays, safety plays, inside the box plays, deep plays — I get motivated and I can accomplish what I have in mind in that mode. That's something I've always wanted to do, so I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.”
Henderson, a former NFL cornerback, believes in the “ebbs and flows” of the season rather than off-field factors creating a sense of urgency.
“I just know I have to be consistent. Sometimes the ball isn't coming to me or I'm not in a position to make a play,” Henderson said, focusing on his players' feelings. He said. “But I've got to keep fighting and give myself the best chance to be ready to go when the ball comes to me or when I get an opportunity. He's good at that. I think they're doing a great job.”
With 10 tackles in Monday's game against the Packers, McKinney becomes the first NFL defensive back since 2000 to record double-digit tackles in five consecutive games.
“My preparation was the same,” McKinney said. “I pride myself on being consistent in the way I work and the way I do business, no matter what external forces or what I'm told, but it's not always perfect. I have my ups and downs, too. . I'm just trying to be myself.”
McKinney's Ironman record is matched by two others: Giants teammate Bobby Okereke. But it's an important story for McKinney, whose past two seasons have been interrupted by injuries, including a freak ATV accident off the field.
“I'm just here to help the team win and I'm just going to be here to play well on defense,” McKinney said. “If that means I have to play every down, if I have to go to overtime, whatever it is, I’m going to go there.”