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3 New York Giants that must fill the holes left by Xavier McKinney in Week 10

Jason Leach
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Credit: USA Today Network

The New York Giants returned to the practice field on Tuesday, for the first time following their bye week. But there was one player that was noticeably absent from the practice field and that’s safety and co-captain Xavier McKinney.

McKinney was involved in a Can-AM (large ATV) accident during the bye week and broke multiple fingers in his left hand. McKinney who was answering questions on Tuesday at his locker was wearing a plastic cast, said that he had surgery and that there isn’t a timetable for his return.

New York needs to find out how to replace the quarterback of their defense. He’s arguably the Giants’ best defensive back and also the signal-caller on the defense. He was fourth on the team in tackles with 38 and has a sack.

Related: NFL standings – Find out who leads each division after Week 9

McKinney will miss at least the next four games due to being put on the Non-Football Injury list. The entire defense will need to step in McKinney’s absence, but in particular, these three players need to take their game to the next level.

Julian Love

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Credit: USA Today Network

Julian Love will now take the role of the signal caller in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s system. Love is one of the most versatile players on the team as he can line up almost anywhere in the secondary.

He has made plays all over the field this season on both defense and special teams. He leads the team in tackles with 58, has recorded a sack, and has the team’s only interception of the year.

Love is in the final year of his contract and he mentioned this week that he loves being a Giant and wants to remain one. If he can fill in for McKinney and continue to play at a high level, not only will New York continue their winning ways, but it will bode well for him in terms of getting a new contract.

Dane Belton

New York’s fourth-round pick, Dane Belton, will certainly see an increase in playing time with McKinney out. When head coach Brian Daboll was asked who might start in place of McKinney, Belton was one of the names he mentioned recently.

The Giants like the versatility and toughness the rookie safety from Iowa showed in college. So far this season he has appeared in seven games, started in two, and has 19 tackles on the season.

He’ll likely make the third start of his NFL career Sunday against the Houston Texans where he’ll play a pivotal role on the back end of the defense, and also try to shut down running back Dameon Pierce.

Kayvon Thibodeaux

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Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It might seem strange having someone in the defensive front seven need to step up their game due to someone in the secondary being out. But Martindale’s aggressive scheme is predicated on applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Since making his NFL debut in Week 3, Thibodeaux seems to be getting better each game after being out with an MCL sprain to his right knee. He’s shown more than what his numbers indicate as he has 14 tackles on the season with one sack.

After having a week off, Thibodeaux’s knee should be healthier than it’s been at any point of the season.

The Giants secondary might be vulnerable with McKinney out. So, they will need Thibodeaux to be more disruptive and not allow quarterbacks time in the pocket to find open receivers.