Chris Perkins: New Dolphins cornerback Eli Apple says ‘it’s all love’ between him and Tyreek Hill

MIAMI GARDENS — Five times. Or, roughly an average of once a minute. That’s how often new Miami cornerback Eli Apple was asked about his relationship with Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill during Apple’s six-minute, 11-second post-practice interview Sunday.

Yes, Apple, who officially signed with Dolphins on Sunday, replacing injured cornerback Jalen Ramsey (knee), will compete for a starting job as a boundary (outside) cornerback. But we’ll get to the football stuff later. 

This is soap opera time.

All told, Apple, the 2016 first-round pick by the New York Giants, was asked 23 questions Sunday. Five were directly or indirectly related to Hill or his relationship with Hill because of their very public social media spat.

I asked the first question. I asked Apple whether he spoke to Hill on Sunday, Apple’s first day with the Dolphins, and where things stand with their relationship.

“His locker is literally right across from mine, so I saw him earlier in the day in the locker room,” Apple said, “and we were chopping it up a little bit at the breakfast table. It’s all love. We’re on the same team; all love.”

A few questions went by and then another reporter asked Apple whether he’d had any fun exchanges with Hill on Sunday. 

“No,” Apple replied. “We were just talking a little bit. He was just telling me a little bit about the guys and the defense. He was just catching me up, introducing me to other coaches I haven’t met yet, so it was cool. It was a great introduction.”

In between, there were bonus questions about whether Apple was asked whether the Dolphins said anything to him about his social media use.

“No, not at all,” Apple said.

And he was asked whether he learned any lessons about being more cautious with his social media after the Hill episode.

“Of course, yeah,” he said before going in a different direction.

“I just want to do what I can to come and be a positive influence on the team and just make the team better overall.”

And, no, none of us asked Apple whether he’d seen Hill’s tweet on Saturday, after the news broke that Apple intended on signing with the Dolphins.

Regarding Apple’s on-field role with the Dolphins, look for him to compete with Kader Kohou to fill the starting boundary cornerback job opposite Xavien Howard, the spot vacated by Ramsey’s injury.

There’s a chance Apple could get the starting boundary cornerback job in the nickel package with Kohou playing the slot.

But there’s also a chance other cornerbacks beat out Apple, guys such as Noah Igbinoghene, the 2020 first-round pick, or rookie Cam Smith, the second-round pick, or veteran Nik Needham, the previous starting nickel before sustaining an Achilles injury last season.

Apple has five interceptions in 78 career starts. He has the experience to replace Ramsey. But he must get up to speed on the Dolphins’ defense, which he said is nothing like the defense he had in Cincinnati the previous two seasons.

“The defense I’m coming from with (Cincinnati defensive coordinator) Lou Anarumo is pretty different,” Apple said. “Here they do a lot of different disguises and schemes for corners. I like it a lot; it’s very corner friendly and aggressive.”

Toward the end of the interview the subject turned back to Hill and Apple was asked about going from being Hill’s rival to being his teammate.

It’s great,” Apple said. “He’s definitely one of the most athletic athletes in the whole world. Everyday going against him is going to make everybody better.”

If nothing else, it should make things more interesting around Dolphins camp.