Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said to direct all questions about the suspension of one of his top cover guys to coach Ben McAdoo. Spagnuolo denied there being any complaints of Rodgers-Cromartie wanting more snaps on the outside -- where he’s played most of his career -- in place of the struggling Eli Apple rather than the slot, where he's played most of the past two years.
“No. He’s been great,” Spagnuolo said of his suspended cornerback.
There seems to be something fishy here. Great isn't the way a team usually describes a player they just suspended. They also don't usually pretend as if a suspension is the equivalent of a dropped interception during practice.
But this is how the New York Giants are handling the current situation. They’re brushing it off as best they can.
“No comment,” Jenkins said to anything Rodgers-Cromartie related on Thursday.
“I don’t have a reaction,” said Harrison, perhaps the most well-respected player on the defensive side of the ball.
This was several hours after the Giants players learned that Rodgers-Cromartie had been suspended indefinitely. A drama that began late last week continues to grow legs.
The Giants (0-5) are doing their best to create a front that they are unaffected by the suspension of a well-liked veteran in their defensive backs room. There have been no players-only meetings and several players told ESPN that McAdoo hasn’t even directly addressed the subject with the team as of Thursday afternoon.
This seems odd, but probably not as odd as the players taking the field for Wednesday’s practice and wondering the whereabouts of Rodgers-Cromartie. He was in meetings earlier that day, but was nowhere to be seen for practice. By Thursday, they knew he wouldn't be around for the foreseeable future.
Rodgers-Cromartie was told he would be benched and not travel with the team on Tuesday, was suspended after he left the team facility Wednesday and told he was suspended indefinitely when he returned Thursday morning to speak with McAdoo. It remains a fluid situation.
McAdoo declared there was “a private conversation that will remain private” on Thursday. He later added in an answer to questions submitted by reporters but asked by a team employee that they “handle team discipline internally.”
Through all this, the winless Giants are preparing to play on the road against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It’s quite the challenge for a struggling team dealing with additional drama.
They're putting it at arm's length.
“DRC is a vet and he reserves the right to make his own decisions,” long-snapper and team captain Zak DeOssie said. “He’s a grown man. At the end of the day, if he gets suspended for whatever reason, it is what it is. I don’t waste time thinking about that. I just concern myself with how we can get a win.”
The Giants desperately need a win. There is no better deodorant than winning games, and they haven’t done that this season.
The impression stemming from all the losses and drama -- beginning with Evan Engram being flagged for grabbing his crotch to Odell Beckham Jr. pretending to pee like a dog while celebrating a touchdown to Eli Apple being benched to Jenkins leaving the field to Rodgers-Cromartie being suspended -- is that McAdoo has lost control of this team. As the losses have piled up, the team has appeared to spiral out of control.
McAdoo brushed it off Wednesday.
“Not concerned with perception, concerned with reality,” he said.
So far, McAdoo’s players publicly have his back. Linebacker B.J. Goodson praised the coach to the New York Daily News earlier this week and veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon was complementary on Thursday.
“We’ve always had order on the team,” Vernon said. “Coach does a great job in setting what we have to do, so I don’t know what happened. I don’t know the details, but we’re just going to move on forward. We’ve got Denver.”
But they have a lot to monitor in this case. Rodgers-Cromartie is suspended and the Giants are banged up heading into Denver. Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris are lost for the season; six other starters didn’t practice Thursday. These are the kind of problems that lead to more losses, which creates more problems.
DeOssie is attempting to do his part to avoid any additional drama.
“I think everyone is trying to do everything they can do to make sure it goes in the right direction,” DeOssie said. “My role is to do my job to the best of my ability and do anything in any capacity, whatever they need. Any way I can get them going, just keep doing that.”
It's almost as if they're trying to act like this Rodgers-Cromartie situation never happened.