Xavier McKinney Gives Powerful Message to Giants Rookie While Mic’d Up [WATCH]

Xavier McKinney Evan Neal

Giants, Youtube New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney had a message for rookie offensive tackle Evan Neal.

The New York Giants haven’t named their team captains for the 2022 NFL season yet, but third-year safety Xavier McKinney is clearly stepping into a leadership role.

McKinney was mic’d up during the team’s annual blue-white scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, and one part that stood out in the video uploaded to the Giants’ official YouTube channel was a candid conversation he had with rookie offensive tackle Evan Neal. McKinney and Neal were teammates at the University of Alabama in 2019, and both players claimed a National Championship during their time with the Crimson Tide (McKinney in 2017, Neal in 2020).

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In the below clip, McKinney is telling Neal that they have to instill a similar championship mentality with the Giants.

“Hey, it’s the start of something great, bro,” McKinney said to Neal. “We gotta take this [expletive] to the next level. You know what it takes. We been there. So, we gotta make sure them [expletive] go on offense. Got to, let’s do it.”

McKinney, 23, was a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He only played in six games (four starts) as a rookie, but last season he blossomed into one of New York’s best players. He led the team with five interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown, while also racking up 93 tackles.

Now heading into Year 3 under a new defensive coordinator, McKinney must step into an even larger role.

McKinney to Wear Green Dot in ‘Rare’ Role For 2022

On offense, the quarterback wears a green dot on his helmet that indicates a communication system with the coaching staff. On defense, the green dot is typically worn by a linebacker.

Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale likes to do things a little differently. He prefers a safety to wear it, and Xavier McKinney has been selected as Martindale’s on-field communicator.

Former Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas called this decision “rare.”

“Safety calling a defense? That’s rare,” Casillas said, per ESPN. “Coverages sometimes come from defensive backs, but calling the defense? Never from a safety from my experience. But if you have the safeties…”

McKinney played 97 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps last season. If he’s wearing the green dot, he’ll need to play close to 100 percent of the snaps again in 2022.

McKinney Linked Up With Eric Weddle to Learn the Role

When Wink Martindale was with the Baltimore Ravens, he typically had safeties call his defenses. One of those safeties was six-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle. Xavier McKinney linked up with Weddle this offseason to glean some insight on the unique role.

“He helped me a lot, actually, with just kind of how to disguise certain things and how to be on the same page with Wink and things like that,” McKinney said, per ESPN. “He really helped me out in terms of looking at film, studying film, how he did it when he had Wink.”

The Giants are expecting a lot out of McKinney this season, and his leadership is a big part of that expectation.

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