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Andrew Thomas looks to take game (and Evan Neal's) to next level


Andrew Thomas took his game to the next level last season. Now the left tackle wants to do the same to another facet of his burgeoning NFL career.

"Definitely starting to transition to the vet mindset," Thomas said on Monday, the first day of the Giants’ offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "I think I've done a good job of handling my business, but the next step is being more vocal and bringing more guys with me."

One of those guys is Evan Neal.

Thomas, who wore a "C" on the right side of his chest for the first time last season, provides a blueprint for Neal, the seventh overall selection in the 2022 draft. Thomas is familiar with the pressure that Neal faces. Just three years ago, Thomas became the highest-drafted offensive lineman by the Giants since 1974. But each season, Thomas got better and better until the former Georgia Bulldog was named to the 2022 All-Pro second team.

As a rookie, Neal started 13 regular-season games – he missed four straight in the middle of the year due to a knee injury – before the former Alabama All-American got his first taste of the NFL playoffs.

"I think just taking it one day at a time and not focusing so much on the results but focusing on process," Thomas said of his advice. "I had a good year last year, but there are so many things I want to get better at as a player, and continuing that mindset is how you get better. Like I said, I'll just do my best to relay that to Evan and the whole O-line group embrace him and continue to work together because he's talented enough to be really good in this league."

View photos from the Giants' offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

While the bookends are secure, the offensive line has questions to answer in between Thomas and Neal. Starters Jon Feliciano (49ers) and Nick Gates (Commanders) departed in free agency, creating openings at center and right guard. Veteran Mark Glowinski returns after starting at left guard in his first season with the Giants.

General manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll have mentioned Jack Anderson, Ben Bredeson, and Shane Lemieux as candidates at center. And then there's always next week's draft.

"Whoever takes that [center] position, they are the leader of the offensive line," Thomas said. "They make all the calls, the mic points, things like that. So, it's going to be a big hole to fill and hopefully the guy that's going to come in, be prepared, but [offensive line coach Bobby Johnson] trains us for everyone to know the center position and know where to go so we can help each other out."

Thomas added, "This is going to be a new combination, a new group every year, so the first thing is just getting down the playbook, making sure our communication is top notch. Everyone needs to know the play and what to do and know where to go and then just building camaraderie as a unit and getting ready for mini-camp and things coming up this season."

Meanwhile, Thomas himself isn't beyond reproach. He knows where he must improve his game.

"I would say the biggest thing this offseason, just working on strength, especially upper body strength, just being able to sit down on some of those bull rushes," Thomas said. "Sometimes you get out of position, and you need boot strength just to sit it down. I've been working on that and then just stay on top of ankle mobility, hip mobility, stuff like that to keep mobile."

Being healthy also helps after Thomas dealt with ankle issues early in his career.

"Being able to run and jump and do O-line training is something I'm not used to being able to do after the first two seasons," Thomas said. "Hopefully that translates well during the season."

View photos of the Giants arriving for the start of the offseason workout program.


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