Cornerback Eli Apple has been a topic of conversation around the Giants for weeks, but for the first time since Nov. 12, Sunday was about his play on the field, not off it.
The first-round pick from a year ago was out the previous four games, three of them as a healthy scratch, but he returned to the field Sunday. He played nearly the entire game and tied for the team-lead with nine tackles, including seven solos, in a 34-29 loss to the Eagles at MetLife Stadium.
“I need to see the film, but I thought he was solid,” interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I don’t remember anything that got us in trouble. I do remember this — he had at least two really good tackles and he’s a really good tackler.”
For Apple, after a league violation last week for tweeting during the game against the Cowboys and getting involved in conflicting reports with safety Landon Collins about the last time the two spoke, it was a relief just to be playing on the field.
“It felt great being back out there with the guys, I told them that, too, during the game,” Apple said. “I just tried to do everything I could on my part to help us win.”
Apple said he knew he would be playing “at some point” but didn’t know what the plan would be entering the game.
“I was a little rusty, I’m not going to lie,” Apple said. “But I think as the game was going on, I got better.”
Defensive end Olivier Vernon was pleased to see Apple contributing.
“We all know he loves to play football,” Vernon said. “He loves being out there, so he knew what he had to do coming in here and making plays and that’s what he did.”
One hiccup on a play involving Apple came when Nick Foles found Trey Burton for a 12-yard touchdown. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie jumped the route Apple was covering, leaving Burton wide open in the end zone, which Apple called a communication issue.
Apple said he’ll continue to rely on veteran players as he tries to learn.
“It’s been a lot,” Apple said. “It’s definitely been a lot, but just continuing to try to grow, lean on the leaders here and get better every day.”