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Eli Apple keeps his focus on improving daily

Posted Aug 8, 2016

Rookie Eli Apple met with the media Monday as his first NFL Training Camp continues: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Apple is more concerned with learning to play correctly than he is in figuring out how he’ll fit into a Giants crowded secondary.

Apple, the athletic cornerback from Ohio State, was the team’s first-round draft choice this year. But the Giants have talented veteran corners in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins and the newly-signed Leon Hall, who is being groomed to play in the slot. It’s uncertain exactly where Apple will fit. But instead of worrying about that, he’s focused on becoming the best player he can be.

“Right now I am just trying to focus on mastering my outside corner technique,” Apple said today. “I am really trying to get in that playbook and just pick up everything fast. Also special teams. However I can contribute, I am trying to do to get on the field.”

Apple has received most of his practice reps on the outside and will likely play there in the preseason opener vs. Miami on Friday, but he is “mixing it in a little bit” in the slot.

He has occasionally drawn the ire of coach Ben McAdoo – and a penalty flag – for holding a receiver instead of using the technique he spoke of earlier.

“It is just the little things, the bad habits that you just have to break, because in college the rules are different,” Apple said. “So you just have to learn how to mirror guys better and use your feet more, kind of just cut them off of their route and little things like that. I am learning every day.”

>> READ: PRACTICE REPORT

Apple made it a point to ask questions of the NFL officials who worked in camp late last week.

“There are a lot of rules,” he said. “I never realized it until some of the meetings. It is just little things that you can do. I never really picked it up just watching it just as a fan, but being a player and seeing everything that the coaches have been teaching me has definitely been beneficial so far, and I am just continuing to learn.”

That process has been accelerated by covering Odell Beckham Jr. in practice. Nothing like lining up opposite the NFL’s most explosive receiver right out of the gate.

“Odell is a great receiver and I have gone against him a lot between now and minicamp and everything,” Apple said. “I am getting used to his moves a little more. But he will always pull something out that you just never expected, but that is how receivers are in this league.”

What, specifically, does Beckham pull out?

“Little things with his hands,” Apple said. “He will pull you through. He is a little guy, but he knows how to use his hands the right way, and he is really savvy about using your force against you. It is crazy.”

Despite the rules and Beckham-induced challenges, Apple is not discouraged.
“I am happy with just the development,” he said. “I just have to keep going every day. I just have to get with the coaches and we will see how preseason goes and I just want to do my best and find a way to get on the field and contribute.”

• McAdoo responded with a succinct “yes” when asked if third-round draft choice Darian Thompson is “a favorite” to win the starting safety job opposite Landon Collins.

• The first-year head coach was not as revealing on some other subjects, such as when he was asked if Victor Cruz will be in uniform and play against the Dolphins on Friday.

“We're not going to talk much about play time,” McAdoo said.

>> READ: 3 STANDOUT PLAYERS

• Another ongoing mystery is who will call the offensive plays, McAdoo or coordinator Mike Sullivan. McAdoo isn’t tipping his hand.

“We'll have a play caller on Friday and we'll evaluate it afterwards,” he said.

He did say it will be obvious who is calling the plays and that he “possibly” will rotate that duty in the preseason.

• McAdoo has no tolerance for practice penalties. Offensive linemen who are flagged for a false start must leave the field for a play, as Bobby Hart and John Jerry each did today. When Hart moved, McAdoo yelled, “get me a right tackle.” Emmett Cleary replaced Hart and took one snap before Hart returned. Cleary later replaced Jerry for one play.

The officials working practice called other infractions, prompting McAdoo to field a question about whether there were too many flags thrown.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We can always get better. We understand that from snap to whistle, there's going to be some combative penalties, but we feel that if we do a good job of coaching and teaching the fundamentals, we can coach those out of the game. Some crews throw a little bit more than others and we ask (the officials) to be strict on us out here (during practice) so it shows up on game day.”

• Although Eli Manning and Beckham connected on two outstanding completions, the loudest cheers of the day were elicited by a long Ryan Nassib pass that was caught by rookie free agent Roger Lewis.