new york giants
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Oshane Ximines and Xavier McKinney are taking the next step en route to potentially returning to the game field.

The New York Giants are back at it after the bye week and will look to oust the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday for their third consecutive win. And in the midst of preparation, Big Blue is returning two of its defensive players to practice.

On Monday morning, the Giants official Twitter account announced that the team designated edge rusher Oshane Ximines and rookie safety Xavier McKinney to return. The former has been dealing with a shoulder injury while the latter fractured his foot back in August.

Ximines suffered his injury in the Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and hasn’t taken part in a game since. The Giants could certainly use him in the pass-rushing department, given the fact that Lorenzo Carter is out for the year and Markus Golden is now in Arizona via a pre-deadline trade.

It’s unclear if Ximines will start when he’s eventually back — the Giants have started Trent Harris in each of the last two games. Regardless, it essentially doesn’t matter within Patrick Graham’s scheme-based defense, as everyone will see playing time one way or another.

McKinney was potentially going to start at the beginning of the season considering he was likely the top safety in this year’s draft. His foot injury in training camp obviously altered those plans, but he’ll still find time in certain scenarios if and when he’s officially activated off injured reserve.

Fielding McKinney at full health should really help improve a Giants defensive backfield that already employs a number of versatile athletes.

The Giants now possess a 21-day window to officially activate Ximines and McKinney off injured reserve. If they don’t activate either of them during that time period, they will remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.