ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Eli Apple today experienced almost everything football has to offer at his position, and he only practiced.
The Giants' third-year cornerback had a receiver jump over him for a touchdown in the team's joint workout with the Detroit Lions. He was also penalized by one of the officials working the practice.
But Apple enjoyed a big finish on the play immediately following the penalty, intercepting a pass thrown by Lions backup quarterback Jake Rudock for Marvin Jones, Jr. in the two-minute drill and returning it for a touchdown. Apple, with no Detroit player near him, added a little flair to his pick by sliding across the goal line.
"Life of a corner," Apple said. "It's not always going to go your way. Sometimes they're going to make plays on you, especially with a great quarterback like Matt Stafford and great receivers like they have. It's all about staying even-keeled and making up for it."
Asked if he is good at staying "even-keeled," Apple said, "I try to be. It's just how it is, all my life, just ups and downs. Always got to keep an even-keeled mindset and keep going."
Apple and the Giants' corners have been tested for two days by the Lions' impressive roster of wide receivers, which includes Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Jr. and Kenny Golladay.
"It's up and down, it's crazy," Apple said. "It's a fight, every play is a fight, and I'm glad we had this opportunity to come out here and practice with a great team like Detroit.
"(Quarterback Matthew Stafford) puts the ball on the money every time, especially in the red zone. He definitely challenged us greatly today, and we appreciate that."
Apple's highlight moment wasn't against Detroit's starters, but it was sweet nonetheless. The two-minute drills are particularly competitive in these practices, because they most closely simulate game action. Apple made the biggest play of the day when he picked off Rudock.
"I was playing off and they tried to do like a slant, wheel, pick type of concept," Apple said "I just thought, 'I got to make a play,' and stepped in front of the ball."
"I think it's competitive," coach Pat Shurmur said. "There's times when you compete all the way to the end, and when you're competing and you're out there one on one, every once in a while you're going to give up a play. But for him to make a game-changing play like he did in a most critical situation is good."
*Eli Manning said he continues to work to get in sync with Odell Beckham Jr., who missed most of last season after undergoing ankle surgery. Beckham has shown no signs that he was ever injured during these practices, as he jousts with Detroit's corners, catching the ball after running deep and across the middle, and appearing to be as fast as he's ever been.
"We are getting there," Manning said. "We still have some work to do, but I thought he has done a good job the last few weeks getting his feel back. Knowing how to work guys in man, give a little extra move and trusting his body and everything, I think he's getting back into his own and getting comfortable on the field again."
Manning and Beckham have frequently stayed on the field after practice has ended in this training camp for additional work. The two-man sessions improve their timing, communication and execution.
"Instead of just saying, 'Here's a route, run it,' it's 'Here's a route, this is the coverage, this is the technique,'" Manning said. "You make sure he is seeing things the same way, so we are expecting the same thing, so you can coach it up after. It's not just, 'Hey run this route,' you're running some things you haven't run as much, some new plays to make sure we are good with the depths of things and the angles coming out of breaks."
*Defensive coordinator James Bettcher frequently plays a front three of Damon Harrison (a seven-year veteran), Dalvin Tomlinson (a second-year pro) and rookie B.J. Hill. Harrison said after practice today he has seen much progress from the two youngsters.
"It's weird, because I'm used to just being out there with Dalvin (who joined him as a starting defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense the Giants had last season)," Harrison said. "So exactly where Dalvin was last year, now it's B.J. Hill. That's just an adjustment for me to getting used to the opposite. But both those young guys have made a lot of great plays in the games and on the practice field, and I think B.J. will be a really, really good player in this league."
*Running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants' first-round draft choice, missed his second straight practice with a strained hamstring.
"He's day to day, and he's working his way back," Shurmur said. "He tweaked it, and yeah, I'm confident he'll be back."
Manning was asked if Barkley is ready to play.
"Obviously, reps are still important at this time," Manning said. "I think he's doing a good job kind of mentally going through it. But, it's different. Obviously, it's different going through something mentally, and going out there and doing it. I think he's shown that he knows what he's doing. He's been sharp on his assignments, and his routes, and catching the ball, and all of those things. Hopefully, we get him back sooner than later."
*The Giants and Lions will hold one more joint practice tomorrow before meeting in a preseason game Friday night in Ford Field.
"It (won't be) very competitive," Shurmur said – about the practice, not the game. "But we're just going to work together and it'll be a practice setting where we just kind of work through situations."
*Shurmur grew up in nearby Dearborn and his mother Barbara and brother Joe were in the contingent of family and friends who attended practice today.
"It's been a long time (since his mom attended a practice), but she showed up today, which was nice," Shurmur said. "She only lives a couple miles away. She lives out in Canton now, and my brother's here. My sister lives in Chicago, so she won't be here for practice, but my brother's here and my mom, so it was good to see them."
*Safety Darian Thompson (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), tight end Ryan O'Malley (ankle), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), wide receiver Travis Rudolph (quad), and linebacker Connor Barwin did not practice.
View the best photos from the Giants' joint practice with the Lions.