EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was a play during Monday's OTAs when New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple ran stride for stride into the end zone with wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Apple turned his head around in time, located the ball and knocked it to the ground.
After a brief celebration, Apple returned to his position for the next snap. There were more splash plays to come. Apple later knocked down a pass intended for wide receiver Cody Latimer at the goal line. It capped off another strong practice in what has, so far, been a spring of redemption after a disappointing second season.
“He’s just out here making plays,” safety Landon Collins said. “That’s not the only play. He’s doing his thing. I’m happy for him. He’s growing up, doing his thing and playing great ball.”
It’s quite the turnaround after a disastrous 2017. Apple struggled badly as he dealt with on- and off-field struggles. It led to multiple benchings, a suspension to end the season and an uncertain future.
But the Giants stuck with Apple -- in part because of his talent and the cost of their investment -- in an offseason in which they reshaped their roster. They’re banking on him to play a significant role.
Apple has worked with the first-team defense this offseason, and he’s expected to start at cornerback opposite Janoris Jenkins. The Giants don’t have a lot of proven depth behind them.
The pass breakup on Shepard was the latest validation that the Giants might be OK with Apple playing a prominent role.
“Yeah, that was a good play,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Then we saw [Jenkins] make a nice interception in the back of the end zone. The ball was thrown well, everyone was in a good position and he made a nice play on it. That’s a good thing.”
So is most of what the Giants have seen this spring. The top-10 talent is overshadowing everything else.
Beckham expected back soon: Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t at voluntary OTAs on Monday. Neither was defensive tackle Damon Harrison. Beckham also skipped out on last week’s workouts after being there earlier this spring.
Shurmur expects both at mandatory minicamp next week, when the Giants practice Tuesday through Thursday.
It’s not out of the question that Beckham, who broke his ankle in October, could be medically cleared for those workouts. Players are obligated to take physicals prior to the minicamp.
“Possibly,” Shurmur said of having his best playmaker available to practice in full. “We’ll have to see when we cross that bridge.”
Whether Beckham is willing to take the field in live drills and practices remains in question. He has primarily worked on the side with trainers when he’s been at the facility this spring. Beckham is hoping to land a lucrative new deal this offseason.
A decision is coming either next week or early in training camp this summer.
“He just has to get out there and, obviously, we’ll visit about how he’s doing,” Shurmur said. “Again, we talk frequently. We’ll visit how he’s doing and put him out there and give him a little bit more as we go.”
Collins on schedule: Landon Collins’ recovery from a second arm surgery earlier this spring is moving along as expected. He participated in individual drills Monday and believes he could play at minicamp, if that were the goal.
But the Giants and Collins are expected to smartly play it safe. They feel no need to rush back.
Collins’ timeline was at six to eight weeks following surgery. He was expected to be back in time for the start of training camp.
“I check with the doctors sometime this week, or next week. I’m very close,” he said. “Just right now, we’re just taking the precautions, not putting me into the team things, getting my arm caught or anything. We’re right around the corner from the season, so we’re not about to risk anything.”
Collins wore a carbon fiber protective piece on his arm Monday. He believes it’s something he may have to wear this season.
Roster moves: The Giants signed tight end Garrett Dickerson, a local product who played at Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey before a four-year career at Northwestern. They waived wide receiver Keeon Johnson and defensive backs Jeremiah McKinnon and Mike Jones.