NFL players usually stand behind their teammates. That’s not happening with the New York Giants. Cornerback Eli Apple seems to be on the outs, and safety Landon Collins didn’t mince words about it during a radio interview on Tuesday.
“There is only one corner who needs to grow up and we all know who that is,” Collins said on 98.7 FM in New York, via Jordan Ranaan of ESPN.com.
“That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. Besides, the other two guys, [Dominique Rodgers-Cromarie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those two guys. They play hard. They love what they do. That first pick … He’s a cancer.”
It’s not the first time Collins has openly criticized Apple. He said on the same radio show last week that the 2016 first-round pick needs to “grow up.”
What’s the deal with Eli Apple?
Apple played in 14 games, starting 11 as a rookie last season. But he’s found himself either benched or just playing special teams regularly this season.
He was benched again in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. Apple hasn’t started a game since Week 10, and he was inactive for four straight games from Week 11 until he got back on the field in Week 15.
Apple got in hot water with the team for threatening to leave the facility after he was criticized during a film breakdown session, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. There were also rumors that Apple was falling out of favor with the Giants because of his conduct and attitude during practices.
He was finally fined by the Giants for tweeting during the team’s loss to the Cowboys in Week 14. Apple was inactive for the game, but league rules forbid tweeting from the sideline regardless of whether a player is active.
Apple’s mother, Annie, underwent brain surgery in November. A report from Dan Duggan of New Jersey Advanced Media suggests that there’s other family turmoil that may be shaping Apple’s recent behavior as well. Annie Apple and Eli’s stepfather, Tim Apple, divorced. The man who raised Apple from the time he was two years old is no longer a part of his life.
Collins said he’s talked to Apple about his maturity and the impact his attitude has on the locker room.
“We need him to be here,” Collins said “We need him to want to be here. Not fighting against us, or fighting against the coaches or the organization or whoever he’s fighting against in his head. We don’t need him fighting us.”
Apple denied that any such conversation occurred, but he was the first Giants player to openly criticize Ben McAdoo and call for changes in New York.
“It’s not just one guy,” Apple said after the Giants’ loss to the Chargers in Week 5. “It’s the whole culture, it’s everything. We’ve got to fix it.’’
McAdoo was fired. But that hasn’t smoothed things over between Apple and his teammates.