Xavier McKinney giants
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The Giants are in a position virtually nobody expected in August. If they beat the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 17, New York clinches its first playoff berth since 2016. What a situation to be in, right?

While the offense will mostly have the same cast of characters going to battle on Sunday, the defense could get a boost. Two impact players have returned to the practice field: safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

McKinney, of course, has been sidelined since an ATV accident during the Giants’ bye week. His absence has made New York’s quest for the playoffs much harder, but the squad is still on the verge of making it happen.

As for Jackson, he’s been out since Week 11 with a knee injury. Both players returned to practice on Thursday. It’s still undetermined if either will be active against Indianapolis. This would be a huge boost if one or both are, but getting them healthy and playing before a potential postseason run is just as huge.

The Giants have 21 days to put McKinney on the active roster. If he has his way, though, he’ll be on the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Here’s what he said to reporters (quotes via NJ.com):

I’m fine. It’s just up to the staff and our trainers and our docs. I feel fine. I feel confident in (the hand). I’m communicating with them and telling them I feel good. Obviously I’m telling them I can play, but it’s up to the trainers and the docs.”

He went on to say the following:

Man, I want to get back big time. The coaches know that and the trainers know that. I’m kind of running out of patience here.

Meanwhile, Jackson seems more resigned to likely not suiting up this weekend:

We’re taking it day by day. Just going out there, doing all the precautions, doing it right by the book and by the plan. Not trying to rush it.

Even with them not in the fold, New York has been a home favorite all week against the Colts, according to Sports Betting Dime. Getting either McKinney or Jackson (or both) back will only enhance the Giants’ chances of victory this weekend. But even if they’re not, it appears they’re on track to at least return by Wild Card weekend, should Big Blue still be playing.

Matt Musico can be reached at matt.musico@xlmedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.