Giants safety Landon Collins: Eli Apple has to grow up

Eli Apple, left, made his first appearance since Nov. 12 on Sunday. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Eli Apple earned back some playing time in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 60 of 68 defensive snaps after being deactivated the previous four games.

The increased reps don't mean he's won back all of his New York Giants teammates. All-Pro safety Landon Collins made his feelings clear Monday on "The Michael Kay Show" on 98.7 ESPN when he was asked if teammates were getting through to Apple.

"I can't tell you man. That's a hard topic to speak on," Collins said. "As a player, he's a great player. As a man, he has his ups and downs. But when he's on the field, I think he's trying to be as much accountable as he can. He understands, I think the business side of the game did it to him, because this game is not for long. And I think he finally understands that even if you're a first-rounder, you can always be cut."

Apple, 22, has already been benched. He's been fined and reprimanded. He's rubbed coaches, teammates and management the wrong way since the start of the season.

It's to the point now that Collins, one of the more well-liked players in the locker room, isn't even willing to serve as Apple's mentor.

"Look, we're all grown men in there," Collins said. "He has to grow up. Mentor and raising are two different things. Right now, I feel like we're doing one more than the other."

It's pretty obvious which one Collins is talking about. Just last week Collins said he's had conversations with Apple about his struggles this season. Apple denied ever speaking to Collins in that regard the following day.

Not long after, this popped up on Collins' Twitter feed.

This has been a rough season for Apple, both on and off the field. Much like the Giants' season, everything has spiraled out of control, with the past month being the worst of it all.

He missed several practices as he dealt a family health matter. It seemed like every week after that the Giants came up with a new reason to keep him on the bench.

"It's been a lot, it's definitely been a lot," Apple said after Sunday's game. "But just continue to try to grow and lean on the leaders here and get better every day."

None of this bodes well for Apple. He's had a bad season from start to finish, even though he returned to the field and played reasonably well Sunday against the Eagles. He had nine tackles in the loss.

At this point, it might not even matter. Apple's not an especially popular guy in the locker room. Among those not happy with his behavior, attitude and approach is Collins, one of the team’s young leaders.

When the Giants hire a general manager and coach there is a good chance they try to clean out the locker room. They're likely to start with the defense. Anyone they consider a bad seed could be at risk. Apple might be at the top of that list.

Apple said last week he has talked with veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and wide receiver Brandon Marshall about his struggles. They, too, hit bumps in the road early in their careers.

Rodgers-Cromartie is on his fourth team; Marshall is on his fifth. Apple, who was drafted him 10th overall out of Ohio State last year, is hoping to stick with the Giants for a few more seasons.

He might have to fix some of those relationships first. If his teammates can't trust him, he has no chance. He doesn't appear to have their trust or respect right now based on Collins' comments.