Eli Apple played in a game for the New York Giants for the first time in five weeks on Sunday when he suited up against the Philadelphia Eagles. After a tumultuous season, though it doesn’t appear that all has been forgiven between Apple and his teammates. At least not between Apple and Landon Collins, who publicly disagreed last week over how teammates had reacted to Apple’s difficulties.
Via ESPN, Collins told ‘The Michael Kay Show’ that Apple “has to grow up” when he was asked if teammates were getting through to the team’s 2016 first-round pick.
"I can't tell you man. That's a hard topic to speak on," Collins said. "As a player, he's a great player. As a man, he has his ups and downs. But when he's on the field, I think he's trying to be as much accountable as he can. He understands, I think the business side of the game did it to him, because this game is not for long. And I think he finally understands that even if you're a first-rounder, you can always be cut."
ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan continued by summarizing the situation between Apple and his teammates this way:
Apple, 22, has already been benched. He's been fined and reprimanded. He's rubbed coaches, teammates and management the wrong way since the start of the season.
It's to the point now that Collins, one of the more well-liked players in the locker room, isn't even willing to serve as Apple's mentor.
"Look, we're all grown men in there," Collins said. "He has to grow up. Mentor and raising are two different things. Right now, I feel like we're doing one more than the other."
Getting on the field Sunday was a good step for Apple. Saying “It’s all about looking somebody else in the face and being accountable” shows that maybe, just maybe some of the hard lessons of his sophomore season are sinking in.
Apple, though, has a looooong way to go before regaining the trust of his teammates and the organization. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has said he has no problem with Apple. At this point, DRC in the minority — maybe a very, very small minority.
With a new GM and coach coming in, it is possible that Apple will get a clean slate and an opportunity to start over. He was a first-round pick for a reason — he has talent, and it’s not easy to toss away guys how can be good cover corners.
It is also possible, though, that considering how dysfunctional the Giants have been this year that a new regime will want to purge the locker room of players seen as having been part of the problem this season.
Is it already too late for Apple to rescue his career with the Giants? One of the truly interesting things about the upcoming offseason will be whether or not the new regime gives him another chance.