EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and safety Xavier McKinney returned to the team after spending several days away because of false positive COVID-19 tests. They were activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday morning.
McKinney was at practice and is expected to play Sunday vs. the Las Vegas Raiders. Barkley was in the building but didn’t practice because of an ankle injury that sidelined him the past three games. He will miss another game in part because the false positives limited his opportunities to get on the field this week.
“A guy who’s been out for several weeks like that, yeah, we’d like to see him on the field and making sure we can assure how he’s moving and get out there and do it safely and stay on the field,” coach Joe Judge said before practice.
The Giants (2-6), who have a bye next week, are expected to get back wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee), who has been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Golladay also missed the previous three games. He practiced for the first time since the injury on Thursday.
“I feel like I’m doing pretty good,” Golladay said Friday after practicing for the second consecutive day. “I would like to [play]. Depends on how my body responds from a couple days back-to-back.”
Barkley’s likely absence caps a wild week in which coaches and players were in and out of the building because of false positives. Running back Gary Brightwell remained away from the team Friday as it awaits confirmation that his result was incorrect. He is questionable to play.
The Giants did have one confirmed positive case — running backs coach Burton Burns — earlier this week. But 12 of 13 positive tests Tuesday were later deemed false. Results for Barkley, McKinney and starting left guard Matt Skura turned out to be false positives on Wednesday, and there were a “good amount” more on Thursday, according to Judge.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Thursday in an interview with the NFL Network that the league was looking into irregularities with the lab handling the Giants’ testing. The Giants eventually stopped using the rapid tests that kept producing incorrect results.
“Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRL) is experiencing an unusually high number of false positives using the Rapid Mesa Test at our facility. With the exception of one individual, all of the positive Mesa test results over the last two days have come back negative through PCR testing,” the Giants said in a statement on Thursday. “The laboratory is working with experts to determine the source of the problem.
“The NFL and BRL are monitoring this situation closely. We are temporarily halting the use of the Rapid Mesa Test and administering PCR tests only.”
The time lost was still too much for Barkley to overcome. He wasn’t able to rehab the ankle at the facility for several days or get onto the field for practice.
Barkley was at practice working on the side with trainers last week. He did not even get to that point this week because of his false positive, instead spending an inordinate amount of time at home.
“He’s assured us that he’s moving in the right direction,” Judge said. “But again, he’s a very competitive player, he wants to be out there, he wants to be out there competing on the field with his teammates.”