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Eli Apple can be a Hall of Fame player — teammate William Gay

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Veteran corner offers former first-round pick high praise

NFL: New York Giants-OTA
Eli Apple
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In his 12th season in the NFL, New York Giants cornerback William Gay knows a little about the position. He paid teammate Eli Apple just about the highest complement possible on Monday after the Giants held their latest OTA.

“You just see the things that he can do on the field. I’m excited for this upcoming year. I’m ready to help him in any type of way that I can because I want to be in his speech when he becomes a Hall of Famer. He’ll say I had an old guy William Gay that helped me a little bit.”

That’s a long way from the things teammates were saying about Apple a year ago when he had a tumultuous season, was criticized for lack of effort and finished the season suspended after a disagreement with an assistant coach.

Veteran safety Michael Thomas said last week that he hadn’t seen any of the behavior that got Apple in trouble last season. Head coach Pat Shurmur has also praised Apple’s attitude this spring. Gay is the latest to offer encouraging words about the third-year corner.

“I’m gonna give him everything I can, but from the looks of it he’s ready to go. I just love his enthusiasm every day on the practice field,” Gay said. “He’s a first-round caliber player. He’s what, 6-2, almost 200 pounds, he can run with any receiver, got long arms. That’s the cornerbacks you look for.”

Apple flashed some of that first-round ability on Monday.

Running stride for stride with Sterling Shepard on a go route, Apple reached up with his left hand and swatted away a perfectly thrown Eli Manning pass, denying the quarterback and wide receiver what would have been a spectacular touchdown.

“I tell him every day you can be that [a Hall of Famer]. You’re several plays in a season from being that. All you gotta do is make plays here, make plays there and just be that dominant corner and you’re on your way if you put it together in consecutive years,” Gay said. “He has the time to do it. He’s what, only 22, 23? He has a long time to make plays in this league.

“I want to give him all the information so maybe when his speech comes up he can throw me in there.”

What a difference a year can make.