When Pat Shurmur was hired as the head coach of the New York Giants, he vowed that every player would be granted a clean slate regardless of his circumstances fro 2018.
Shurmur has made good o his promise and so far, cornerback Eli Apple and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, two players from last year’s 3-13 disaster whose futures were left hanging by a thread once the 2017 season came to a close, seem to be benefiting from the clean slate.
Known as an offensive mind, Shurmur first expounded on the progress of Flowers, whose Giants fate seemed sealed when he was suspended for the 2017 season finale. Flowers’ ousting seemed even more inevitable when he failed to appear at the Giants’ veteran activities at the start of the offseason, and his absence extended into draft weekend, when the team held its optional minicamp.
But having reported to Quest Diagnostics Training Center, Flowers has impressed his new head coach on the field.
“He’s been great. 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,” Shurmur said. “Through the first two weeks of his training, I think he’s made improvements.”
Reports had circulated that Flowers was displeased with the Giants’ offseason addition of Nate Solder, who was made the highest-paid lineman in football, despite playing the same position. This on-field activity has provided a new look at Flowers, who has shifted over to right tackle in the new-look Giants’ offense.
“He’s actually done a really good job,” Shurmur praised. “He’s an excellent athlete and he’s handling the move pretty seamlessly.” The head coach insisted that the move was “voluntary”, calling any reports of Flowers displeasure “water under the bridge”.
In the case of Apple, also a first-round draft pick, Shurmur praised the cornerback’s new maturity. Last week, Apple met the media for the first time since drawing a one-game suspension in the final week of the regular season and took full responsibility for his actions that helped contributed to his forgettable sophomore season.
“I think that it speaks to maturity and it speaks to owning successes and failures. We have to be willing to, okay, if a mistake happened, in order to move forward from a mistake or something that went wrong, we have to admit that it happened and that we were involved in it,” Shurmur said of Apple’s comments from last week.
“As professionals in this business, we do this probably game to game and season to season. I think whatever happened a year ago and whatever he is talking about, I am sure that is just a mature guy that is reflecting.”
Veteran defensive back Michael Thomas, who signed with the team as a free agent, shared in Shurmur’s excitement over what Apple can potentially bring to the team.
“I see a talented, young kid,” Thomas said. “He’s a dude that is going out there competing and making plays. He’s willing to get better. I’ve heard from a bunch of teammates that he’s willing to get better. Last year, he wouldn’t have done that. He’s really getting better. That’s what I have seen so far.”
And that’s what the Giants continue to hope they’ll see in the weeks and months ahead.