Eli Apple getting kinder words from teammates this year

Giants safety Landon Collins referred to cornerback Eli Apple as a cancer last season in one of many harsh comments directed at the 2016 first-round pick during a year that saw him struggle on the field and in the locker room.

Plans for a bronze bust should probably remain on hold for a while, but a good season for Apple should put a pin in any other bust talk that cropped up as a miserable 2017 season came to an end.

He ran a 4.66 40 at the combine, but had pulled up with a hamstring injury. He has run the 100 meters in 10.37 seconds for the Trojans’ track team, so his speed is not in question. He was a more decisive runner this past season, and his 19 touchdowns in 2017 showed he can close the deal.

He played two seasons for the Demon Deacons after his redshirt year and needs to add strength and improve his tackling. His kind of range and athleticism is coveted at safety.

He played at either left or right tackle, but Mississippi State’s coaching staff believed he could have played any of the five positions on the offensive front. Some NFL evaluators believe he could be a center as a pro; he played there during spring drills in 2017.

Crosby looks more comfortable in the run game than in pass protection, so he could be looking at a move to right tackle or guard. He finishes blocks with purpose and plays with rare power.

With all the specialty packages NFL defenses are using, Reid is the kind of hybrid safety who should contribute quickly, especially with his speed. He had 99 tackles this past season with five interceptions.

So you’ll probably hear some of that coming from that camp this week. 2. Three magic letters you’ll hear from Bears minicamp: R-P-O. We know new Chicago coach Matt Nagy will be implementing run-pass option concepts for quarterback Mitch Trubisky (and that’s good, since he ran some in college). I noted a couple weeks ago in the Game Plan that Minnesota will be doing it behind new coordinator John DeFilippo.

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Cardinals’ Christian Kirk pays restitution, gets charges dropped

Cardinals rookie receiver Christian Kirk has put a legal problem behind him.

The Cardinals drafted Kirk knowing that he had been arrested in February in nearby Scottsdale, Arizona, on a disorderly conduct and property damage charge. Today Kirk had the charges dropped.

Scottsdale city prosecutor Karen Close said Kirk paid restitution and as a result her office dropped the charges.

As free-agent additions go, Omameh signing a three-year, $15 million contract ($5.5 million guaranteed) was oh-by-the-way news in mid-March, coming a day after the Giants lured in left tackle Nate Solder with a $62 million deal. Omameh was brought in to start and this spring he is working with the first team, lining up at right guard, with Flowers to his right and center Brett Jones to his left. John Greco, a 10-year veteran (mostly with the Browns) brought in midway through last season mainly to watch, has worked as the starting left guard, alongside Solder. Rookie Will Hernandez, the highly touted second-round pick, is the second-unit left guard, although he has received snaps with the starters.

Keeping Hernandez behind Greco is likely a decorum move by the coaching staff, not giving Hernandez too much too soon, making sure he earns his spot with the first unit. How the offensive line shakes out in the spring is not necessarily how it turns out in the summer and into the regular season.

Still, the Warriors carry an All-Star array of talent with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom will be intent on wearing down James.

Golden State’s Curry missed the first six postseason games with a sprained knee, and while he doesn’t look 100 percent and shows occasional rust, he still has enough to remind all that he’s a two-time MVP. When he’s right, every time he shoots, you think it’s good. Right now, not so much. Hill is a steady, non-spectacular but consistent pro. The Cavs pray he hit shots and avoids foul trouble. Behind him are venerable (a nice way of saying old) Jose Calderon and Finals newbie Jordan Clarkson.

He is an All-Star, but Thompson remains under the radar with the galaxy of stars surrounding him on the Warriors. He is one of the game’s premier two-way players, a terrific defender who lights it up offensively with anyone. His size makes him another guy to stick on LeBron.

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Chargers sign a tight end, but it isn’t Antonio Gates

The Chargers lost tight end Hunter Henry for the season when he tore his ACL during practice last week and it wasn’t long before people began wondering if that would open the door for Antonio Gates’ return for another season.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has endorsed such an idea, but the team’s first move at tight end since Henry’s injury didn’t involve their longtime star.

Within weeks, Yepremian was a guest star on The Odd Couple. He kicked another six years with the Dolphins, nine overall in the NFL, and even made All-Pro the very next year. All you have to do is see the reactions of his teammates in the Super Bowl video to know they wished he suffered in the moment as much as they did.

Fred Merkle received one of the unforgettable names of all time — Bonehead — because his failure to touch second base late in the 1908 season cost the Giants the NL pennant. The resulting and lasting description of that play — Merkle’s Boner — has thrown generations of 13-year-old boys into hysterics whenever they come across it in a baseball history book. Merkle had a terrific 20-year career, but when he died in 1956, that two-word description was in the first paragraph of every obituary.

Apart from fans not standing or not taking their hats off or or not getting their faces out of their phones or yelling profanities at easy-target players who are standing motionless during the anthem or going to the bathroom (either in the bathroom or elsewhere) or standing in line to buy a hotdog or hobnobbing in a luxury suite, there’s a specific tradition at Arrowhead Stadium, where 70,000-plus fans commemorate the last word of the anthem (brave) by shouting Chiefs!

So will the Chiefs be asking Chiefs fans not to turn the last word of the anthem into a pre-kick battle cry?

[O]ur plan is encourage everyone in our stadium to stand and respect the anthem, team spokesman Ted Crews told PFT via text message on Thursday.

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DeMarcus Lawrence on not holding out: I’m not everybody else; I’m DeMarcus

While Le’Veon Bell remains a holdout from the Steelers’ offseason program after the team placed the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive season, DeMarcus Lawrence signed his franchise tag within hours of receiving it. Why, the Cowboys defensive end was asked?

Cause I’m not everybody else, Lawrence said. I’m DeMarcus. DeMarcus does what DeMarcus want to do.

Lawrence, who is due to make $17.143 million under the tag, still wants a long-term deal. The Cowboys are working on extensions for Lawrence and offensive guard Zack Martin.

Adams speaks to the media after practice Tuesday.Bill Kostroun

To me, we failed, Adams said. We were 5-11, not good enough and it’s never going to be good enough for us. That’s not our standard. We’re onto a new year and we just started from day one to get better each and every day.

Taylor was also asked about the report, but noted that a Foles bid would have predated his arrival in Cleveland and therefore really doesn’t affect me.

Kevin Bryant: The Americans series finale reminded me of your recent column on the Celtics: Rooting for the bad guys never seemed so right.

Vac: Hmmm … the Celtics as Cold-War Communists … I can live with that! I loved the way the show wrapped up. And the one scene (if you saw it, you know the one I mean) was just elite TV at its finest.

It was a spectacular save all right, perhaps to be remembered as the series-changing event that kick-started the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship.

But only recency bias (or in this case, immediacy bias) can account for folks calling Braden Holtby’s lunging stick save on Alex Tuch with two minutes remaining in Wednesday’s match in Las Vegas the greatest in the history of the finals, no matter its degree of impossibility.

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David Tepper meets with Panthers players about anthem issue

New Panthers owner David Tepper isn’t wasting any time wading into NFL business.

According to Kelsey Riggs of WCNC, Tepper flew straight from being approved at the Atlanta owners meeting to Charlotte to meet with some of his new employees yesterday.

Tepper apparently discussed the league’s new anthem policy with a few of the team captains and key leaders on the team. A source described the meeting as including good dialogue and discussion about the issue.

To instantly read how any team came out of this kind of forum is, at best, a wild guess supported by some evidence. Perspective is needed. What we really should be doing is reviewing the six drafts from 2008-13. Why?

Through Thursday there had been 1,080 players used in 2018. Of those, 800 came via the draft, or 74.1 percent of the overall players — a message that teams better be doing well in finding foreign amateur talent as well, because it is roughly one-quarter of rosters.

He’s been great, Giants coach Pat Shurmur said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. He’s been communicating well. He looks like he’s having fun playing out there. He’s worked in with the offensive line and he’s done everything we’ve asked. And I anticipate that will continue.

As they did with Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Apple, the Giants new administration can offer a clean slate, and they really need Flowers to accept his, since they don’t have another apparent option to start at right tackle (considering they weren’t able to pawn him off for a pick during the draft).

That’s all water under the bridge, Shurmur said of Flowers’ previous absence, and it really doesn’t matter. . . .

He’s actually done a really good job. He’s an excellent athlete and he’s handling the move pretty seamlessly. Through the first two weeks of his training, I think he’s made improvements.

Again, they need him to, so they don’t have to accept a top-10 pick as a sunk cost. But Shurmur making it clear that past sins are forgiven and that Flowers is welcome and valued is the kind of man-management that the job requires sometimes.

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