Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has no hard feelings toward Ben McAdoo, as he made his return from a mysterious suspension on Wednesday.
This time last week, some would’ve called it a miracle to see Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie back in New York Giant blue.
For Rodgers-Cromartie, it’s simply Wednesday afternoon.
The cornerback returned from a one-week suspension, greeting reporters with disclaimers and clarifications about his mysterious single-game exile. Throughout his post-practice availability, however, Rodgers-Cromartie kept a smile on his face, exuding an aura of positivity.
“When I first walked in, [Damon Harrison] was the first one to jump up and down and hug me,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of his entrance this week. “So the boys definitely welcomed me back with open arms and that definitely, definitely made me feel good.”
The positive feelings were not exclusive to Rogers-Cromartie, who rejoins the Giants in time for their Sunday afternoon showdown at home against the Seattle Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). Head coach Ben McAdoo was pleased to welcome his All-Pro back after things reportedly got heated between the two during the Giants’ previous home game against the Chargers on October 8.
“It’s great to have DRC back,” McAdoo said. “He had a lot of energy [at practice]. We welcomed him back with open arms.”
Safety Landon Collins concurred.
“It’s pleasant, it’s great,” Collins said “We’re happy that he’s back. It’s a blessing. We’re happy to have him back on the field, and we’re excited to have him back on the field.” Collins later added “There was no doubt in mind he was coming back. He just had to get some stress off his shoulders I guess.”
After last week brought rumors of a heated meeting between coach and cornerback, one that concluded with the latter sentenced to a four-game suspension, McAdoo and Rodgers-Cromartie met earlier this week under different circumstances. As has become custom, McAdoo chose to let private conversations remain private, but Rodgers-Cromartie provided some detail.
“It probably went good because we got the win,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “[McAdoo] had a big smile on his face. He just said, ‘Hey, stuff happens. But from this forward on, you just got to come back, work your way back in and get back in good grace.’ And I understand that.”
Rumors permeated throughout last week that McAdoo and Rodgers-Cromartie had gotten into a heated confrontation during the Charger game, on that involved Rodgers-Cromartie tossing his helmet in anger and later venturing to the locker room, though he would return. Rodgers-Cromartie did acknowledge that a slight injury caused some tension, but he again brushed off any hints of further conflict, brushing the situation off as “a misunderstanding”.
“I did get tweaked and there was a misunderstanding,” Rodgers-Cromartie explained. “I got a tweak and [the coaching staff] thought that was it, but I [was] like ‘I’m good’. [It was] just miscommunication. At the end of the day, I still can’t react the way I did. Did I wear my emotions on my sleeve? Yeah, because at the end of the day man, I just want to play ball.”
One thing that Rodgers-Cromartie made clear was that he never wanted out of the Tri-State area. The ex-Denver Bronco quickly shot down gossip that he requested a trade, and had a humorous explanation to another rumor that claimed he cleaned out his locker.
“I’m dramatic, man. I’m crazy. I can’t help that. I do stuff over the top,” Rodgers-Cromartie said with a laugh “I handled it wrong, but I’m good, baby. I’m back, baby, that’s all that matters.”
At the end of it all, Rodgers-Cromartie maintained that there is no conflict between him and McAdoo, as he said he “definitely” respects the way McAdoo handled the situation.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeves,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But I told him, I messed up and I understand that, and as a coach, you got to do what you got to do. Whatever the consequence is, I have to accept that and go on from there.”
The suspension, though shortened, did cause Rodgers-Cromartie to miss the Giants’ first win of the season, a 23-10 prime-time triumph against his former comrades in Denver on Sunday night. Though he was disappointed that he could not partake in the win, Rodgers-Cromartie praised his teammates’ defensive performance. The Giants forced three turnovers and held Denver to 46 rushing yards.
“The guys really went out there and they fought hard,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of his teammates. “I watched the whole game. I felt like a little kid out there watching my brothers go to work. [It] hurt not to be out there, but at the end of the day we got the win.”
The veteran had a special shoutout for Donte Deayon, who made his NFL regular season debut in Rodgers-Cromartie’s absence. Deayone, who has referred to Rodgers-Cromartie as a mentor, had one tackle on Sunday night.
“It was like a father watching his son for him to go out there,” Rodgers-Cromartie described. “He’s energetic just like me. He brings a lot of fun to the game and to see him out there, I told him, don’t let up. Stay out there. Regardless of what happened with me, stay out there and keep going. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
Rodgers-Cromartie’s suspension ceases at a perfect time. If the Giants (1-5) are to continue the wave of momentum they began on Sunday night, they’ll need all the help they can get against the defending NFC West champion Seahawks (3-2). Like Denver last week, Seattle is coming off of their bye, and are currently a half game behind the Rams for the division lead.
McAdoo outlined the dangers of the Seattle offense, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, to open his statements today.
“It’ll be a great challenge for our football team,” McAdoo said. “Offensively, they’re led by one of the best leaders in the ballgame, Russell Wilson. He throws with accuracy, has a great touch on the ball. He does it from inside and outside the pocket. We know he can extend plays. He does a good job creating on the move with his feet. He gets better as the game goes on, which will be a big challenge for us.”
This will be the Giants’ first of three consecutive games against NFC West competition. After a bye next week, the Los Angeles Rams visit East Rutherford on Nov. 5, preceding a trip to San Francisco on Nov. 12.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490