Over the first three days of training camp practice, one glaring change has stood out for Wink Martindale’s New York Giants defense: safety Xavier McKinney calling some plays.

Traditionally, NFL teams have a middle linebacker or inside linebacker relay the play call. However, with Blake Martinez still working his way back from a torn ACL, it’s McKinney’s helmet that sports the green dot.

Head coach Brian Daboll acknowledged as much on Friday and even said that he had McKinney call some of the defensive plays himself.

“I think signal callers, X and Daniel (Jones), they’re relaying plays in at times to the players. Just put them on the other end of it, I think there’s some friendly competition fire there and the guys get a kick out of it,” Daboll told reporters.

The team took an added step when it came to McKinney calling the plays, setting him up with retired safety Eric Weddle this offseason.

“I actually talked to Eric Weddle a couple times during the offseason. He helped me a lot actually with just kind of how to disguise certain things and how to be on the same page with Wink, and things like that,” McKinney said. “We had good convo. He really helped me out in terms of looking at film, studying film, how he did it when he had Wink, so he was really helpful. That’s what I mean by still trying to learn it and get stuff down pat.”

Weddle, of course, called plays for Martindale during his time with the Baltimore Ravens and the defensive coordinator figured he could impart some wisdom on the Giants’ third-year safety.

To further prepare both McKinney and Jones, Daboll had the headsets of Martindale and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka cut off at times. It forced both to adjust on the fly and lead their respective units without the aid of a coach.

“We’ll have the walkie talkies or headsets out there for our players and there will be times — and I did it in the spring — where I will purposely cut them off on Wink and Kafta because it could happen in a game like that and now they have to take control and be able to operate and not panic and all the hand gestures,” Daboll said. “Just go out and make sure you have a play all in mind and be able to lead the team.”

McKinney, who made and relayed calls at Alabama, likes the added responsibility.

“It was cool,” McKinney said, admitting he could have made better calls. “It was fun, though.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants handle communication once Martinez is back in full, but early indications are that the job will belong to McKinney.

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