Bengals CB Eli Apple looks to put struggles behind him as he’s set to start again

When the Bengals signed Eli Apple as a free agent in March, it was with the idea of adding depth to the secondary and using the 2016 first-round pick as the fourth or fifth cornerback. But he has played more snaps through five games than any cornerback on the roster and has the third most among all defensive players.

And that shouldn’t change any time soon. Apple is in line to return to a starting role after Trae Waynes went on Injured Reserve on Tuesday due to the same hamstring injury that forced him to miss the first three games, thrusting Apple into his first starts since 2019.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the next challenge and opportunity,” Apple said. “Every day I want to improve and get better and continue to show that I do have the necessary skill sets to be part of a great defense and to also be a great player in this league.”

The results in 2021 have been mixed at best, with opponents targeting — and victimizing — Apple frequently, beginning with the opener when Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins completed all seven balls thrown at him for 70 yards and a touchdown.

But in the four games since — three of which were starts — he’s been targeted 25 times while allowing 14 receptions for 126 yards and no scores.

“I think I’ve been playing solid, minus a couple bad plays,” Apple said. “For the most part, I think I’ve been doing OK. Definitely can do better, and I’m looking forward to that, to being able to show more.


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