Landon Collins and Eli Apple’s civil war was the final insult in the Giants’ lost 2017 season, but the former reported on Monday that he and Apple patched things up.
The lauded safety, making his first public statements of 2018, announced that he and cornerback Eli Apple ceased their verbal fire, ending the feud that concluded the Giants’ woebegone 2017 season.
Speaking during a Monday conference call, Collins expressed optimism about working with Apple in new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s new defensive scheme.
“We buried the hatchet a while ago,” Collins declared before further praising Apple. “That’s my guy, that’s my brother. I’m always going to have his back and we know what we have to do. We know what kind of caliber player he is, we know what caliber player I am and we’re just trying to get to work and make this season go.”
Apple, the Giants’ first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, helped the Giants conclude the year on a fitting sour note, as the team’s December loss to the Dallas Cowboys was further sullied when Apple, inactive for that 30-10 Dallas victory, made a controversial social media post during the game.
An Ohio State University alum, Apple found himself at the center of New York controversy when he retweeted a Buckeyes fan account’s commemoration of a big day for Cowboys running back Rod Smith. A former college teammate of Apple’s, Smith had two scores, one an 81-yard reception, to seal the deal for the Cowboys. The post flat out stated that the long six-pointed “iced the New York Giants”, infuriating the New York faithful.
In the weeks following the incident, Collins had said he helped Apple deal with the ensuing controversy, but the former Buckeye denied Collins was a part of that so-called rehabilitation, giving credit instead to fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has since been released. Collins, the Giants’ lone Pro Bowl representative, responded by indirectly calling Apple a “cancer” during an interview with ESPN Radio’s Bob Wischusen.
“There’s only just one corner that needs to grow, and we all know who that is,” Collins said during the interview. “That first pick … he’s a cancer.”
Collins, however, sang a different tune on Monday, welcoming back Apple with open arms.
“I’m glad to see him back. He’s a great corner,” Collins praised. “He’s very smart, I love that he comes up and lays the boom on guys and he’s a great coverage guy. We need him and we’re glad to have him back.”
Collins’ words are the latest chapter in the offseason of redemption for Apple. After a strong rookie year, Apple endured a brutal sophomore slump, one that was filled with controversy and benchings. His season ended early, as the Giants suspended him for the 2017 finale against the Washington Redskins, reportedly over a heated confrontation with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.
“(He is a) very talented player,” Bettcher said. “He’s a guy who can play man, who can press, who can play zone defense in space, who can break on the ball and very excited next week to get him here and get to work and have a chance to work with these guys this offseason.”
In addition to the Apple situation, Collins was upbeat about other Giant happenings, including the hiring of Bettcher. Though talks are in the early stages, Collins said he has already met with Bettcher to discuss his role in the ex-Arizona defensive boss’ 3-4 scheme.
“Today we went over two schemes and it’s perfect,” Collins reported. “While he was going over it, it was like I was in college again. It was back to what I knew like the back of my hand and it’s going to play fast because it’s very stern.”
Collins, 24, also briefly addressed his future, as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Entering the league as a second-round pick from Alabama in 2015, Collins has established himself as one of the NFL’s elite defenders, earning All-Pro honors in 2016.
“I’m just letting it just work itself out. I’m not really going through the negotiating part,” Collins stated. “I’m going to leave that between Dave Gettleman and my agent and then go from there. From that point on, I’m just here trying to make new friends with my boys, new relationships and be a captain like I’ve always been.”
Collins was unable to appear in his second consecutive Pro Bowl last season, as he suffered a season-ending forearm injury in the penultimate game of the season in Arizona. The season finale marked his first missed NFL game. He quickly assured Giants fans that everything was back to normal to open his Monday statements.
“My arm is doing great,” he said. “(Rehab) was very minimum, but everything is back to 100 percent.”