EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas stood in front of his locker for more than 10 minutes answering questions, and only one dealt with playing the surprising Los Angeles Rams this weekend.
When your team is 1-6 and top cornerback Janoris Jenkins gets suspended coming off a bye week, there usually aren’t a lot of questions about football, especially when it’s the second player suspension in less than a month for violating team rules.
For Casillas, quarterback Eli Manning, cornerback Eli Apple and safety Landon Collins, the questions were all about the Giants’ season that is threatening to get very ugly.
For coach Ben McAdoo there were questions why he lied to the media Monday when he said that Jenkins’ absence was excused. He said Tuesday he had not been in contract with Jenkins until that day.
“Until I had all the information, I was going to err on the high side of trusting the player, protecting the player,” McAdoo said Wednesday when asked about his decision to mislead reporters.
McAdoo would not discuss what he said to Jenkins on Tuesday or what Jenkins said to him about missing the workout.
“It’s my responsibility to take action and when you have discipline that needs to be taken care of, you have to handle it,” said McAdoo, who suspended indefinitely cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Oct. 11 after the veteran was insubordinate during a game against the Chargers on Oct. 8. DRC then left the team headquarters before a practice a couple of days later. “If you don’t handle it, that’s a poor reflection. I think for the best of the program, the decision had to be made.”
McAdoo called the suspension of two cornerbacks isolated incidents.
Then the players got the hard questions Wednesday.
— Was McAdoo losing control of the team less than a year after leading it to an 11-5 regular-season record and the first playoff berth since the 2011 season?
— Did Jenkins show a lack of respect for the coach by not calling him before Monday’s practice to explain why he was not there?
— Is the locker room falling apart after the horrible start?
While the players said they would like to have had Jenkins on the field for the game against the Rams (5-2), the player broke a team rule and there had to be consequences.
“I don’t like it,” Casillas said of the suspension. “I want him here. At the end of the day, he did break a team rule. It’s not like he didn’t do anything or he was late. It’s kind of like inexcusable. … Whether I support Ben McAdoo or not, he is the head coach and I think he is doing what he thinks is best for the team.”
Collins insisted the Giants have not lost respect for the 40-year-old McAdoo.
“We continue growing with him and trying to be a great team and stay together because our back is against the wall right now,” Collins said. “We can’t fight against each other. If we fight against each other, things are definitely going to go bad.”
Manning didn’t feel the poor records led to the inappropriate behavior and the suspensions.
“I think it’s just been a couple cases of stuff gone wrong and you’re put in a position that you have to discipline them,” Manning said.
Apple and second-year running back Paul Perkins also missed Monday’s workout. They called the coach and each said they were punished. They did not say how, but it was most likely a fine.
Apple said that the players have not tuned out McAdoo.
“It’s just unfortunate situations at a time,” said Apple, who had travel problems getting back from Ohio, where he attended the Penn State-Ohio State game. “Just like with the weather or something like that, but it’s about getting everybody on the same page.”
NOTES: DEs Olivier Vernon (ankle) and Kerry Wynn (knee), LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), T Justin Pugh (back), C Weston Richburg (concussion), S Nat Berhe (calf) and TE Rhett Ellison (not injury related) did not practice. Ellison’s wife is expecting a baby. WR Sterling Shepard (ankle), Casillas (neck) and fellow LB Calvin Munson (quad), and DT Robert Thomas (calf) were limited.