Few New York Giants are in greater need of a bounce-back season than Eli Apple, the Giants’ first-round pick in 2016. Apple got off to a solid start in his rookie season, but saw the momentum falter amidst a perfect storm of personal and locker room disruptions.
Heading in to his third season, Apple seemed like a new man throughout the spring. His new head coach promised a “clean slate,” and Apple has taken advantage of it.
“He’s acting like a pro”
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked on Saturday for his thoughts on what he has seen from Apple so far. His response:
“With my eyes, just a few months into this, I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business,” Shurmur said before the team’s third practice.
“He is very business-like and he is covering really well, which is a good attribute for a corner. I like the way he is working. He’s out there challenging but he is also being smart. Based on what I have seen, there are very few mistakes that he is making when we move the coverage around and I like the way he is functioning in the building. He’s very attentive in meetings. In my mind, based on what I’ve seen, he’s acting like a pro.”
First impressions matter
Apple was asked on Saturday how he felt about Shurmur’s praise.
“It’s definitely important for me,” Apple said. “That was a first impression type of thing, I just wanted to show that I’m a hard worker and just continue to show that even now, because as we continue to go on with these practices, it’s about just staying on top of that and trying to get better every day.”
Throughout his third spring, many observed that Apple has become more of a professional compared to years past.
When asked what that means to him, Apple echoed Shurmur’s observations, “Just going about your business every day and just keeping everything all business, and asking a lot of questions, and trying to learn.”
“It’s definitely a process,” Apple added. “I think it’s just, every day is a new day and you try to learn as much as you can, try to pick the brains of the older guys, and try to give the best effort and be the best player you can be.”
Part of that process is maturing physically and mentally as a young man. Apple was only 20 years old when the Giants took him 10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.
“I think every day I’m kind of getting older, growing up a little bit, and my birthday is actually August 9. I turn 23, so naturally I think I’m getting older, getting a little bit more mature. Just trying to continue to just learn – that’s the main thing, learning and getting better,” he said.
Hopefully, Apple will celebrate his birthday by showing that he is taking the next step to fully harness his impressive physical tools and become the shut-down corner the Giants need him to be.