Asked for an assessment of Eli Apple so far this training camp, coach Pat Shurmur used a word that until Saturday had rarely been employed in discussing the cornerback.
“Based on what I’ve seen,” Shurmur said on Saturday, “he’s acting like a pro.”
That, you need not be reminded, has not always been the case. Apple, a former first-round pick for the Giants, has always been a talented player. Questions about his maturity, his dedication, and his relationships with teammates and coaches are what led to speculation that the Giants could part ways with him this offseason despite just two years of service.
Instead, Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman decided to stick with Apple and give him the same “clean slate” that others in the organization were given. For Apple, there was a lot more to clean. So far, though, it seems as if he has taken advantage of it.
“With my eyes, just a few months into this, I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business,” Shurmur said of Apple. “There are very few mistakes that he is making when we move the coverage around and I like the way he is functioning in the building.”
Eli Apple is on his way to going from problem child to poster boy.
“It’s definitely a process,” Apple said of maturing in the NFL. “Every day is a new day and you try to learn as much as you can, try to pick the brains of the older guys, and try to give the best effort and be the best player you can be.”
For Apple, no one really knows where that ceiling is. It’s been obscured for so long by off-the-field distractions. Heading into his third NFL season, though, the Giants would like for that potential to start to be realized.
“Every day I’m kind of getting older, growing up a little bit,” he said. “My birthday is August 9. I turn 23 . . . I think I can only get better from here.”