New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple didn’t start in Sunday’s 27-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Instead, the Giants paired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with Janoris Jenkins. Apple didn’t play in the defense’s first three series. Ross Cockrell, acquired in a trade at the end of the preseason, also got some action before Apple took the field.
Apple, a 2016 first-round draft pick, did play in 63 of 76 defensive snaps. He finished with five tackles and was instrumental later in the game as Rodgers-Cromartie was in and out with an injury. He also committed two penalties: a defensive holding call and a special teams illegal shift.
Apple has struggled this season in coverage, to the point where opposing quarterbacks were purposely throwing in his direction. Head coach Ben McAdoo said Apple’s benching was “pre-planned” but he still wasn’t pleased.
“I wasn’t happy,” Apple said after the game. “To me, that’s what happens. You lose games and it’s going to be someone else’s problem and they look around and think, ‘OK, this is the problem.’ But it’s not just one guy. It’s the whole culture. It’s everything. We’ve got to fix it.”
Apple also insisted Sunday’s benching has not reduced his confidence in his abilities.
“This doesn’t hurt. Not even one bit,” he said. “I know what I can do. The coaches know what I can do. They see what happened. I’m not worried about that.”
Apple wouldn’t reveal how he was informed of the benching.
“We talked about it,” he said. “The message was kind of weird, but I can’t really tell you. It’s kind of internal.”
Apple wasn’t the only player who was benched Sunday. Right guard John Jerry was replaced by free agent signing and former Charger D.J. Fluker after a few series. The Giants’ running game was more successful with the backs running behind Fluker.
It is a positive sign that McAdoo is willing to make changes if things aren’t going smoothly…unfortunately, it may be too late to save the Giants’ season.