What is in the world is going on with Eli Apple, and does the 2016 first-round pick have a future with the New York Giants?
Apple was inactive Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. That’s four straight games, with the team giving varied reasons each time.
This, week interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said it was due to a lack of practice reps during the week.
“I talked with Eli before the game when we deactivated him. He sat in my office and I said, ‘Look, we need to get you going. Everybody wants you here helping us out, but this wasn’t the week to do it.’ He didn’t get enough reps during the week,” Spagnuolo said. “He did get some on Friday. I just didn’t think it was enough to have him ready to do the things we were going to do in the defensive game plan and he understood that and the goal there as we shook hands and hugged was, ‘let’s get you up and running next week.’ “
After the game Apple tweeted about smiling in the face of adversity and then issued a since-deleted retweet of a celebration of Rod Smith’s 81-yard touchdown Sunday against the Giants. They were Ohio State teammates.
“I heard about that. I had a conversation with Eli about that. I was disappointed. I told him I was disappointed,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll decide exactly what we’ll do with it, but it was disappointing. He apologized and we’ll move on.”
Spagnuolo said Monday that he “wasn’t aware of the exact tweet,” but he knew it had occurred and that “I had to have a conversation.”
Apple was benched for disciplinary reasons by then-coach Ben McAdoo for several series in a game earlier this season. He has not played since the game against the San Francisco 49ers, after which teammates apparently questioned his effort on at least two plays during what was described as a “brutally honest” film session.
After the game, interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said “the hope” is that Apple will play next week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The decision there was because he just didn’t get enough reps during the week,” Spagnuolo said. “I talked with him earlier. He’s going to be ready to go next week and hopefully we’re up and running.”
What does Apple need to do to show that he is ready to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles?
“He’s struggling. We all know that he went through a struggle personally. I mean, I think you’re all aware of that and sometimes it takes a little while to recover from that. I’m not saying that that’s an excuse, but he’s got to step up, show his teammates, his coaches that he’s ready. I believe he wants to and is going to do that. We just need to see him do it,” Spagnuolo said. “Last week, it was a little bit of a groin I think early in the week and then felt a little bit better. Now, something about a back. I hope you all can understand that a lot is going on in this small brain of mine from last week, so I can’t piece it all together, but I’m hopeful and optimistic we can get him going. I’m disappointed in the tweeting thing, but hopefully we can get over these hurdles.”
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was asked if some of his teammates had issues with Apple.
“I can’t speak for other guys, but me personally, he’s cool with me because I understand. I used to be that guy, you feel me? When you’re going through something, sometimes you don’t know really how to act out so you act a certain way and I get that. It just takes somebody to hone in and make you feel loved,” DRC said. “The other opponent is, it’s a profession and you have guys in here that are professionals and strictly about their business. So if it seems like a guy is not doing what he’s asked to do, he kind of rubs them the wrong way. I just understand it.”
Whoever the new general manager and coach are next season, they appear to face a decision regarding Apple. After a season in which his attitude has clearly not been good, do they get what they can in a trade and move on, or keep him and hope that he matures?