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17.08.2018

Why Giants are giving Eli Apple an unlikely second chance.

This time last year, Eli Apple was on his way to making it big. Much has transpired with Apple since, most of it bad and disturbing, and he readies for his third season with the Giants as a young player at a crossroads. The Giants need Apple, perhaps more than any other holdover on their...
Time: 20:16     Date: 16.05.2018
Last US Sport News: Why Giants are giving Eli Apple an unlikely second chance. NY Post 24 - US News

The Giants need Apple, perhaps more than any other holdover on their roster, to not only rebound but revitalize a reputation in tatters, if they are to rise from the depth of last place in the NFC East into the vicinity of playoff contention.

For all the enticing offensive toys for Eli Manning to play with, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Co. cannot be expected to produce 25 to 30 points on a weekly basis. Already, it appears head coach Pat Shurmur will have to rely heavily on the ability of his defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, to out-scheme opponents and devise ways to manufacture pressure on the opposing quarterback.

It is virtually impossible to hide deficiencies at cornerback, though, and Apple was a major part of the problem after a truly nightmarish 2017 season.

There have been worse second acts, but not many. The new operating duo of Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman inherited quite a conundrum and, wisely, decided to wait and see rather than jettisoning Apple as a way of sending an introductory warning that there is a new Giants way of doing things.

This spring, Apple is a constant participant in the Giants’ offseason workout program. Gettleman and Shurmur have not said a whole lot about Apple, other than the broad-brush “clean slate’’ directive they assigned to players coming back from last season’s 3-13 nosedive.

Their actions are more telling, though. When Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie declined to accept a pay cut, he was released, removing a key component from the defensive backfield. No cornerback of substance was signed in free agency — veteran William Gay, 33, is a slot corner — and the draft came and went without a cornerback among the six picks.

The Giants anticipate a return to form of Janoris Jenkins, a bona fide No. 1 corner, and are rolling the dice Apple can discard that dreadful 2017 funk and mature into a player befitting his draft status (10th overall in 2016), his pedigree (Ohio State) and his skill set.

Apple seemed primed for takeoff a year ago. His rookie season was typically turbulent for a novice NFL cornerback, but the arrow certainly pointed upward, as he started 11 games and was a contributor on a formidable defensive unit that carried the Giants into the playoffs. He returned to work bigger and stronger, adding muscle to a 6-foot-1, 201-pound frame that can serve as a prototype for what an NFL cornerback should look like.

Nothing last season went right for the Giants, and Apple was one of the reasons for the crash and burn. His play was wildly inconsistent, his effort came and went and his accountability was suspect. Veterans grumbled about his work ethic and lack of professionalism. He lost his starting job and, eventually, any role whatsoever, as he was a healthy scratch in four consecutive games.

The new regime researched Apple’s demise and determined he is worth trying to salvage. Talented cornerbacks are hard to find — it remains to be seen if he can harness that talent. One Giants insider called it “a new lease on life,” but that lease could be short-lived if there is any recurrence of a bad attitude.

The Giants are confident they will be a tough team to run against, believing opponents will be forced to throw the ball early and often. How the back end holds up will tell the tale, and Apple is the leading character in this storyline. There is little doubt he has the physical ability to get the job done. What the Giants do not know is if he has the heart and the stomach for it.

Gettleman was not talking specifically about Apple, but he might as well have been, when he verbalized what he wants, and does not want, on the roster: “There’s two kinds of players in this league, folks — there are guys that play professional football, and there are professional football players. And the professional football players are the guys we want.’’

It remains to be seen which category Eli Apple falls into.

Sport

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Opinion

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Living

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“It’s a wonderful thing to see your books come to life,” says Meg Wolitzer, who saw one of her early novels turn into...
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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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