Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo did not intervene in the team’s latest round of drama on Friday. He acknowledged the simmering conflict between safety Landon Collins and cornerback Eli Apple but also conveyed his belief that if they work it out, no member of the coaching staff needs to broker a peace.
Asked if he thought such a move had become necessary after the conflict became public on Thursday — with Collins saying he offered the troubled 22-year-old counsel and Apple insisting twice that nothing of the sort had happened — Spagnuolo replied, “No, I really don’t. Look, we’re a family. There’s going to be disagreements in families. Grown men. I am banking it will all get worked out.”
Apple, the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is having a rocky second season. He reacted badly to the coaches’ critique of his performance in the Nov. 12 loss to the 49ers and reportedly threatened to leave the team’s complex. He hasn’t played in a game since — in part because he had some excused absences from practices after his mother had brain surgery — and got into hot water last weekend.
Inactive for the fourth straight game, he took to social media at halftime in violation of NFL rules. After the game, he re-posted a Cowboys highlight featuring his former Ohio State teammate, Rod Smith, who caught an 81-yard touchdown pass against the Giants. Spagnuolo said he would be disciplined for those indiscretions.
After Collins told reporters Wednesday that he’d counseled Apple, the cornerback said he sought advice from Brandon Marshall and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie but not Collins. In fact, Apple denied that they had even talked. Collins was irked.
Meanwhile, it seems likely that neither Collins nor Apple will play Sunday against the Eagles. Collins, who started his first 45 games, is listed as “doubtful’’ because of an ankle injury.
“He didn’t go today, but we got a little bit of work out of him yesterday,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a tough guy so — you know him — he wants to play. We’ll see what happens when we get to Sunday, because tomorrow is just a jog-through.”
Because Collins plays with such abandon, “I don’t want him to re-injure himself,” he said. “I don’t want him to put himself in a situation where it might be harmful going forward.’’
Spagnuolo envisions Collins becoming one of the franchise’s leaders in the future. “Back in training camp, I saw signs of [leadership] and I went over and told him,” he said. “I think it’s really good when a young guy grows that we give them feedback so they understand we recognize [it]. Every time I’ve done that, I’ve found they make another leap. But Landon’s not a rah-rah, vocal guy. More than anything, Landon leads with how hard he works, how much he loves the game of football . . . I respect that. I think the other players recognize that, and a lot of respect comes with that.”
Spagnuolo was non-committal regarding Apple. “I’m kind of doing the numbers of the 46 [active players], but it’s flowing,” he said. “I’ll figure it out by Sunday and I certainly wouldn’t want to say anything now in front of the opposition.”
Notes & quotes: DE Romeo Okwara, out with a knee injury suffered in practice in mid-October, has been a practice participant but will not be activated Sunday, Spagnuolo said. He could be activated next week . . . CB Brandon Dixon (hamstring/heel), WR Travis Rudolph and WR Roger Lewis (ankle) are questionable . . . With safety Nat Berhe out with a hamstring injury, the Giants promoted safety Ryan Murphy from the practice squad.