If anyone knows what rookie cornerback Eli Apple is going through right now, it’s Landon Collins.
With Apple coming off one of his worst games — he was benched in the third quarter of last Sunday’s 28-23 win over the Eagles — it’s second-year safety Collins that has firsthand experience with rookie struggles.
Though Collins was never benched last season, mostly because the Giants were so injury-riddled at safety that they had no choice but to play the second-round rookie, he struggled enough to know that Apple’s difficult NFL indoctrination is to be expected.
“Some things, you just have to go through,” Collins said Thursday. “You just have to learn from it. Once you learn from it, it’s like you know what’s going to happen before it happens, so you don’t allow it to happen.”
Collins is the ultimate example of a player making a quantum leap from his first year to his second; after a mistake-filled rookie season, Collins has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after the Giants’ last two games. He believes Apple will enjoy that eventual success; in the meantime, he’ll just have to go through the rookie growing pains.
And the Giants will give him that chance. While Apple doesn’t want to give away the game plan by saying how much he’ll be playing in Monday night’s game against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium, he offered this much: He’ll play.
“Yeah, I’ll be back,” Apple said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve just got to get back to my form. Just being out [with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss two games and most of another], that kind of stunted things. Just got to get back out there.”
Apple said Collins has been an invaluable resource this week.
“Anything you do, you’re going to have some bad days,” Apple said. “[Collins] was just telling me his experiences, and trying to help me out with that. He gave me a good insight on things, and he’s someone who’s playing real well right now. Everybody goes through growing pains. It’s just something you have to learn from and move forward.”
Collins is there for his teammate.
“Whatever he needs to ask me, I know the whole defense,” Collins said. “If he needs anything on the defensive side, I’m there.”
Collins wishes he had someone to lean on during what turned out to be a difficult rookie season.
“There was a lot of pressure on me, and I think if I just had a veteran guy next to me, I think it would have been better,” he said. “I had Brandon [Meriweather], but I mean a guy that knew the system [under defensive coordinator Steve Spag nuolo], someone that was here and been in the system and been in the NFL for a while.”
Like Antrel Rolle, who was released after the 2014 season?
“Yes, Antrel would have helped me out in the long term,” Collins said. “I just had to do it on my own, and it was a big learning curve. It just pushed me to be greater than I was last year.”