There was 4:29 to go in last season's Week 8 game for the New York Giants against the Kansas City Chiefs. The score was 17-17 and the Giants were trying desperately to get a stop and get the ball back in an effort to pull off a monumental Monday Night Football upset.
On second-and-20 from the Chiefs' 19-yard line, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes fired a pass that New York's Darnay Holmes intercepted, seemingly setting the Giants up at the Chiefs' 34-yard line.
Oshane Ximines of the Giants, though, had jumped offside. The penalty allowed the Chiefs to keep the ball, and they went down the field and won the game on a Harrison Butker field goal with 1:12 remaining.
That dropped the Giants to 2-6, basically ending their chance of having a true turnaround season. The play also basically ended Ximines' season.
After playing at least 14 defensive snaps in each of the Giants' first eight games, Ximines played only a single defensive snap the rest of the season. He was inactive for six of the final nine games, did not play in a seventh, got a special teams snap in one game and a defensive snap in another.
To say he was buried on the depth chart is probably an understatement. He seemed to be about as deep in Joe Judge's doghouse as a player could possibly get.
Ximines said that was a "humbling" experience.
“It was pretty hard, but it’s the NFL. You’ve gotta wear your big-boy pants every day," Ximines said in a 1-on-1 interview with Big Blue View on Monday. "Most of all I learned from it. It was a very humbling experience and I learned a lot about myself and it put me in a good space for this year.”
Ximines said he learned “not to take anything for granted. You’ve got to maximize every day, every chance you get. You never know when you could be sitting or looking from the outside in.”
That statement naturally led me to ask if the 2019 third-round pick out of Old Dominion felt he had been taking things for granted.
“I’m not saying that, but it’s just the fact that not playing, I never thought I would be in that position," Ximines said. "Just being honest I didn’t ever think I’d not have a jersey on Sunday. Feeling that humbled me, woke me up.”
Ximines worked with both defensive line trainer B.T. Jordan and pass rush trainer Chuck Smith. He also spent time lifting weight with Azeez Ojulari, though the couple of pounds of muscle he added pales in comparison to the 10-15 pounds Ojulari gained.
“[I] put in a lot of good work this offseason," Ximines said. "I always do, but feel like it was a little bit extra this year.”
Ximines had 4.5 sacks in a somewhat promising rookie season. He was derailed by a 2020 shoulder injury that limited him to four games, and then ended up as an afterthought on the 2021 Giants -- a player who was on the team, but wasn't really part of the team as the season wound down.
Ximines has not had a sack since late in his rookie season, and has just five quarterback hits over the past two years.
Coach Brian Daboll said from the beginning of his tenure in January that players had a clean slate. Ximines knows he is one of those players who needed one.
“Definitely," Ximines said. "That’s one of the first things Coach Dabes said to us as a team. Everybody has a clean slate. That’s something I definitely took to heart and I believed him and I just come out here and I try to be the best me.”
Ximines has had a good camp thus far, but told Big Blue View that "It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Not really saying I’m doing good or bad, just trying to take it day by day.”
Ximines had a mixed day on Monday, with some good rushes but also a pair of offside penalties.
9. Good rep for Ximines, eventually, against Neal. But don’t think Daboll appreciated it after another offside penalty: pic.twitter.com/hnaDyZykQP— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) August 1, 2022
Ximines is now looking at a depth chart that includes Kayvon Thibodeaux, Ojulari, Quincy Roche and Elerson Smith. He knows he is in a fight for a roster spot.
“Of course. I just go out there and be the best me. Also, it’s not about just me. I’ve gotta bring those guys along, too," Ximines said. "They’re important to the success of this program and they’re young guys and they bust their ass every day and I know we’re competing for jobs, but at the same time those are my brothers and I try to bring everybody along and try to motivate everybody … we help each other out, and that’s going to make us all better in the end.”
Ximines, now a grizzled veteran at the age of 25, knows better than to try to figure out where -- or if -- he fits on the roster.
“Maximize every day, that’s what I learned last year," Ximines said.
“If you don’t stay in the moment and maximize every rep, every play that’s where you fuck up in this league. You gotta keep one foot in front of the other and keep going every day. Don’t look too far down the road.”