New York Giants: Xavier McKinney’s Career Is Not Doomed After Fifth Metatarsal Fracture

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants were hit with bad injury news last week, losing two key pieces on their defense. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney and starting linebacker David Mayo were both announced injured. Mayo is expected to miss a few weeks with a meniscus trim, but McKinney is expected to be out much longer.

Xavier McKinney suffered a fractured left foot injury. More specifically, McKinney fractured his fifth metatarsal, the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.

This type of injury is fairly common. Many athletes have suffered this injury, some being pretty big-names. McKinney is expected to miss at least two months as he recovers from this injury. But many fans are concerned that Xavier will not be the same player when he returns. Hakeem Nicks, one of the Giants’ best wide receivers in the Eli Manning-era, suffered the same injury and never returned to the same level he was once capable of. Is Xavier McKinney’s career also doomed by this injury?

How Other NFL Players Have Recovered From This Injury:

Xavier McKinney is not the first player to ever suffer a fractured fifth metatarsal. In fact, a few big-name NFL players have also suffered the same injury and made full recoveries.

Julio Jones

Julio Jones broke his foot in 2013, playing in only five games that season. Since then, Jones has dominated the NFL. Coming back from that injury, Jones was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014. He was then selected as a First-Team All-Pro in the following 2015 and 2016 seasons. Julio has not missed the Pro Bowl in a season since 2013. Julio Jones made a full recovery from this injury (suffered in his third season) and cemented himself as one of the best wide receivers in NFL history over the course of a career that has not yet ended.

Marvin Jones

Another wide receiver, another Jones, Marvin also made a full recovery from the same injury. During his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Jones fractured his fifth metatarsal in 2014. Jones missed the entirety of the 2014 season with this injury. But the following season, Marvin played in all 16 games and put up 816 yards on 65 receptions. Jones is still in the league, providing quality performances from the slot for the Detroit Lions, all these years removed from a fractured fifth metatarsal.

Ben Roethlisberger

Not just wide receivers have recovered from fractured feet. The sport’s most valuable position is not immune to injuries. Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is another one on the list of star NFL players who have recovered from a fractured fifth metatarsal.

Big Ben broke his big foot in 2010. Ben suffered the injury towards the end of the year, so he only missed the final four games of the season. But this was not an injury that Ben carried into 2011, or throughout the rest of his career. Roethlisberger returned to start in 15 games in 2011 and make one of his six career Pro Bowls. Ben Roethlisberger has continued to stand on that foot in the pocket and deliver big-time throws over the past ten years.

Stephon Tuitt

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have another solid player to add to this list. Stephon Tuitt, one of the NFL’s most consistent defensive tackles of the last six years, also suffered a fractured foot at one point. This situation could be the most comparable to Xavier McKinney, too, because of the timing of Tuitt’s injury.

Stephon was drafted in 2014, but he did not participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine due to a fracture in his fifth metatarsal. Tuitt suffered this injury in college and, subsequently, played a very limited role in his rookie season. Tuitt appeared in all 16 games, starting 4 of them, but he only played 40% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps.

The next season, Tuitt’s role expanded as he played 79% of the defense’s snaps. Tuitt is still one of the Steelers’ starting defensive lineman, to this day. He did suffer another injury in 2019, missing ten games, but this injury was unrelated to his foot injury. Tuitt tore his pec in 2019.

Derwin James

Another player to compare Xavier McKinney to is Derwin James. After a dominant, All-Pro rookie season in 2018, Derwin James suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal during training camp in 2019. James missed the first twelve weeks of the 2019 NFL season. This is the timetable expected for McKinney. He should be back around Week 13 for the Giants.

Derwin returned to the Chargers’ starting lineup in Week 13. He was not limited in any way, playing 98% of the team’s defensive snaps in Weeks 13 and 14, then 100% of the snaps in Weeks 15, 16, and 17. Of course, as it would be expected, Derwin James was not the dominant player in those final five games that he was in his rookie season- he had some rust to oil off. But Derwin was still playing at a high level after returning from this injury.

Derwin James earned an 82.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus in those final five games, making him one of the highest-graded safeties of the 2019 NFL season. Granted, he only played 299 snaps, but he was still a solid player during that time frame. Derwin James recovered from the fractured fifth metatarsal injury and returned to form in only twelve weeks.

What Does This Mean For Xavier McKinney?

Xavier McKinney’s career is not doomed by his foot injury. Many Giants fans were scared when they first heard the news of McKinney’s fractured foot. Hearing the term “fifth metatarsal” gave them flashbacks to Hakeem Nicks and his injury from 2012. But Hakeem is just one example of a player who suffered this injury. Many other players have suffered the same injury, fully recovered, and gone on to continue successful careers.

Even at the safety position, Derwin James recovered and made an impact towards the end of the 2019 season. McKinney and James have a similar playing-style, too. Giants fans will see Xavier McKinney suit up this season, barring unforeseen complications. But the likely outcome in this situation is that Xavier McKinney fully recovers from this injury and goes on to have a successful career for the New York Giants.

New York Jets Countdown to Draft Day: The Best No. 11 picks in NFL Draft History

New York Giants, JJ Watt

As draft day approaches, ESM looks back on the best players chosen in the New York Jets’ current draft slots.

The New York Jets currently own eight draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday night in a virtual setting (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network).

To commemorate the path to the draft, ESM counts down the greatest picks chosen in their respective positions. Our series concludes with none than the No. 11 pick, the Jets first selection once things get underway in the virtual arena. Our final installment is particularly special, so we rounded things off at the 11 best picks in the 11th slot…

1950: OL/DT Leo Nomellini, San Francisco

Nomellini was born in Tuscany before immigrating to Minnesota as an infant. He would go on to star with the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers, earning All-American honors twice before becoming the first NFL Draft selection of the San Francisco 49ers upon their transfer from the All-America Football Conference. Two-way exploits awaited Nomellini in the NFL. He wound up playing 14-years in the league, with ten of those seasons ending in Pro Bowl visits and six All-Pro nominations. Post-football, Nomellini also worked as a professional wrestler, as seen above. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

1952: RB/WR/DB Frank Gifford, NY Giants

Gifford’s eight career Pro Bowls were earned through three different positions. His story is one of the more inspiring in NFL history. A hard hit from Philadelphia’s Chuck Bednarik forced him into an early retirement in 1960. But, after nearly 18 months on the mend, he returned to NFL action and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Other accolades include 1956’s MVP and a spot on the 1950s All-Decade team. Gifford reached Canton in 1977 and later served as an analyst on Monday Night Football.

1953: DE Doug Atkins, Cleveland

Decades before the sack became an official stat, Atkins was striking fear into the hearts of quarterbacks everywhere during a career spent primarily with the Chicago Bears. Many contemporary NFL Network viewers were introduced to Atkins last season when he was named to the NFL’s 100th Anniversary team. He also appeared on the 1960s edition of the All-Decade team. He used his track and field prowess, particularly that in the high jump, to invade opposing backfields. Appropriately, the final play of his NFL career was a sack, with Pittsburgh throw Dick Shiner being the victim. Atkins got his invitation to Canton in 1982.

1964: WR Paul Warfield, Cleveland

Yet another Canton invitee, Warfield continues to hold the NFL record for yards per reception amongst players with at least 300 receptions (20.1). Warfield accomplished plenty during a six-year tenure Cleveland tenure, he’s perhaps best-known for his exploits with the Miami Dolphins. So great was Warfield’s reputation (he reached eight Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro squads) that President Richard Nixon personally suggested a play to Miami head coach Don Shula during their 1972 Super Bowl appearance against Dallas. The Dolphins lost that game, but Warfield wound up being their leading receiver during the ensuing route to perfection. 

1988: WR Michael Irvin, Dallas

Irvin was a metroplex trivia answer long before he took the field at Texas Stadium. He was the last first round pick of the holy Dallas decision-making trinity of Tex Schramm, Gil Brandt, and Tom Landry. The Miami alum was granted starting duties immediately and was also bestowed the numeral 88, becoming the first Cowboy to wear the number since Drew Pearson’s 1983 retirement. Schramm predicted that the drafting of Irvin would “speed (Dallas’) return to the living” after a string of losing seasons. Irvin did that and then some, forming the legendary “Triplets” group with fellow first-rounders Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. Dallas won three Super Bowls and Irvin and his 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns landed him in the Hall of Fame.

2002: DE Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis

New York serendipity was not to be for Freeney, a Syracuse alum who grew up idolizing Lawrence Taylor. Instead, he went to a Colts squad desperate to surround Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Marvin Harrison with a competent defense. Freeney almost accomplished the task on his own. The first nine of 47 career forced fumbles came in his rookie season, the debut of an 11-year career with the Colts. That championship finally came in 2007, when the Colts topped Chicago. Freeney is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2022.

2004: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh

The 11th pick of the 2004 draft yielded one of the historic selections of the quarterback class. After the chaos of the Eli Manning-Phillip Rivers situation, Roethlisberger went to the Steelers. He usurped the job from Tommy Maddox early in his rookie season and won his first 13 starts. One year later, Pittsburgh earned its fifth Super Bowl, and Roethlisberger would author a sixth journey during the 2008-09 season. In spite of his many accomplishments (including six Pro Bowls and topping the passing yardage list twice), controversy hasn’t eluded Roethlisberger, who was accused of sexual assault at the turn of the decade on numerous occasions.

2005: LB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas

Controversy initially reigned when the Cowboys took Ware out of Troy with the 11th pick, passing San Diego-bound Shawne Merriman. While Merriman had a decent, if all too brief, career, Ware turned himself into a legend. After nine years in Dallas (in which he built a sizable lead on the team’s sack list), Ware moved onto Denver, where he captured an elusive Super Bowl title. He tallied five tackles, including two sacks, in the 24-10 win over Carolina.

2007: LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco 

Unfortunately, injuries ended Willis’ career in 2014 before it could truly get going, but he made the most out of what he had. He led the league in tackles twice, and also put up 53 pass defenses and 16 forced fumbles. His career ended with a Pro Bowl appearance in all but his final season (which was cut short due to the fateful toe injury that led him to a premature departure) and he was able to reach the NFL’s All-2010s team, despite playing only three full seasons in the decade.

2011: DE J.J. Watt, Houston

The face of the NFL almost always appears to be a quarterback, and this current state of the league doesn’t appear to afford an exception with Patrick Mahomes looking like the most likely candidate. Watt, however, is doing what we can to turn favor over to the defense. His impressive resume, earned despite dealing with numerous injuries, speaks for itself (three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 95.5 sacks), but Watt has also made an impact off the field with numerous charitable endeavors, notably raising over $37 million to help his loyalists from the Houston area recover from Hurrican Harvey.

2012: DT Dontari Poe, Kansas City

In 2012, the Kansas Chiefs found the quarterback they were looking for. Patrick who? It’s actually Poe, who owns a perfect career passer rating of 158.3 thanks to his Christmas Eve toss in 2016 that went for a score. He hasn’t been so bad on defense either, putting up 278 tackles and 20.5 sacks over eight seasons so far. The 2013 All-Pro nominee and two-time Pro Bowler recently inked a two-year deal with the Cowboys.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags