Apple was inactive for the fourth consecutive game. He responded to a tweet regarding his playing status with an emoji of a man running with his hands in the air with the words “I’m too healthy”. Apple was officially listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.
The second-year player also retweeted a tweet praising Cowboys running back Rod Smith’s 81-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach for the Giants. Apple and Smith were teammates on Ohio State’s 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship team.
“I had a conversation with Eli about that. I was disappointed,” interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I told him I was disappointed. We’ll decide exactly what we do with it. He apologized. We move on from that.”
Spagnuolo said he was only aware of the tweeting itself, not what was communicated in the tweets. Apple didn’t speak to the media after the game, saying he wasn’t allowed to.
Apple’s teammates were in the dark about the tweeting as well. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t aware until he was asked about it on Monday.
“I didn’t know about it. He tweeted during the game? What did he say?” Rodgers-Cromartie asked. “…That is a tough one there. I don’t know. They probably have that kind of connection. But to do it during the game, that is probably bad timing.”
Apple, a first-round pick, hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with his draft position.
He started the season’s first three games before being benched after reportedly getting into a verbal altercation with his position coach. Apple also missed a few days while tending a personal matter related to the health of a family member. He missed two days of practice last week as he dealt with hip/back issues.
“Look, we need to get you going. Everybody wants you here helping us out,” Spagnuolo said of his conversation with Apple. “But this wasn’t the week to do it. He didn’t get enough reps during the week. But he did get some on Friday. I just didn’t think it was enough to have him ready to do the things we were going to do with the defensive game plan. He understood that. The goal there, after we shook hands and hugged, was to get him up and running next week.”
There are reports that Apple is not well liked with an unnamed source describing him as “being in the doghouse”. The Giants have been content with starting Ross Cockrell and Brandon Dixon with Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot even with Janoris Jenkins on season-ending injured reserve.
“He’s cool with me because I understand. I used to be that guy. You feel me?” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “When you’re going through stuff, sometimes you don’t know how to act out, so you act a certain way. I get that. It takes someone to hone in and make you feel loved.
“But the other point is it’s a profession. You’ve got guys in here that is professional and strictly about their business. So, if it seems like a guy isn’t doing what he’s asked to do, it rubs them the wrong way. I just understand it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie speaks from experience. Despite his talent, the Giants are his fourth team. He was suspended for a game earlier this season after getting into a shouting match on the sideline with former head coach Ben McAdoo and leaving the facility before practice. Rodgers-Cromartie, in his 10th NFL season, has taken it upon himself to be a mentor to Apple.
“I don’t want to see him go down that path. I try to stay on him,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Naturally, DRC was asked if the mentoring is working.
“It’s hard to tell,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “I can say he comes in here in the right mindset and comes in and puts his stuff on and goes out there and practices. He does what is asked of him. I think, for the most part, he gets it.”