Eli Apple did not call teammate Landon Collins a liar, but he might as well have.
Apple disputed Collins’ claim Thursday that he has spoken with the second-year cornerback to try to help him through what has been a turbulent and controversy-filled season. Collins said Wednesday he has reached out “multiple times’’ to Apple.
Asked if Collins has spoken with him, Apple said, “Landon, no, but I talked to Brandon Marshall. DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] always been a good person to talk to because he kinda went through the same thing when he was like around my age a little bit. I just talked to some of the guys and it helped me out.’’
Asked specifically if one of those players was Collins, Apple said, “No.’’
Informed that Collins a day earlier said he had, Apple said, “Yeah.’’
So this was not the case?
“No,’’ Apple said.
Collins was in no mood to get embroiled in a debate about this.
“That’s what he said? I guess he don’t remember things then,’’ Collins said. “But I’m not about to start that conversation with me and my teammate. It is what it is. I know what I did. I’ve spoken highly of him, but it is what it is.’’
Collins did appear to take a shot at Apple on social media after the interviews were over.
Tweet about that and watch what happens💯
— LANDON COLLINS (@TheHumble_21) December 14, 2017
So it goes with Apple, who cannot seem to get out of his own way. Undercutting Collins, one of the most respected Giants players, is a strange way to ingratiate yourself back with your team.
A day earlier, Collins said he and teammates have had “sit-downs’’ with Apple periodically throughout the season, trying to get him to act more professionally and get the most out of his talent.
“We need him to be here, we need him to want to be here and not fighting against us,’’ Collins said Wednesday. “If he’s fighting against the coaches or the organization or whoever he’s fighting against in his head, we don’t need him fighting us. That causes conflict.’’
Apple has not played in the past four games, essentially a healthy scratch, and this is not normal for a former first-round draft pick. Apple, 22, said he expects to play Sunday against the Eagles, although he admits the coaching staff has not yet informed him this will be the case. He is currently practicing with the second-team defense and working on special teams.
“I’m very excited to be back on the field, just having fun,’’ Apple said, speaking with the hood of his sweatshirt wrapped tightly around his head.
As far as what the coaching staff wants to see out of him, Apple said, “Just continue to go about my day as a professional.’’
Going about his day as a professional has been exceedingly difficult for Apple, who also has been dealing with off-the-field issues, including his mother’s recent brain surgery. He was held out of the starting lineup against the Chargers for poor practice habits and, according to a source, threatened to walk out of the team facility after hearing pointed criticism of his play in San Francisco.
Apple ran afoul of the interim head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, and assorted teammates for tweeting during a 30-10 loss last week to the Cowboys. Apple retweeted a post from an Ohio State fan site lauding Rod Smith’s 81-yard touchdown reception against the Giants. Apple and Smith were college teammates. Tweeting during a game is a violation of NFL rules.
“Wasn’t any confusion,’’ Apple said. “That was just a mistake by me. I talked to some guys and explained to them. We’ll move forward.’’
Apple’s antics and actions this season make it seem as if he might not want to stay with the Giants, a theory he dismissed.
“I’m blessed to be where I am right now,’’ Apple said. “I appreciate everything, just being here, alive, playing football, something I love to do, that’s a blessing, you don’t want to take that for granted. I definitely want to be here, to be honest.’’
If so, he has a strange way of showing that desire. Contradicting the word of Collins, a respected young player, is the latest cause for alarm.