Similar to some of the other position groups on the roster, the Giants' offensive line underwent a significant transformation this year.
Veterans Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano were added during free agency and are likely to start at right guard and center, respectively. The following month, the Giants used the No. 7 overall pick in the draft on tackle Evan Neal, who will slot in at right tackle.
Although it appears as if a competition will take place during training camp to see who starts at left guard, the left tackle position is already accounted for with Andrew Thomas. Thomas is entering his third season as the starting left tackle, and after dealing with a foot injury during the 2021 campaign, the 23-year-old is preparing himself for training camp.
"Rehab is coming along pretty well. I'm doing everything the trainers ask me to do," Thomas said on an O-linemen edition of the Giants Huddle podcast. "Definitely moving a lot better and I'm prepared to be ready for training camp.
"It's definitely frustrating, but it's part of the business, learning how to navigate being injured because you're never going to feel 100 percent. But I felt like last year I started to make some strides. It's a little frustrating sometimes when you can't be on the field with your teammates."
Despite apparently playing part of the season injured, Thomas still put together an impressive sophomore campaign. He allowed just two sacks on 517 pass block snaps, earning a pass block grade of 82.1 from Pro Football Focus. This mark ranked 12th among all offensive tackles, and helped Thomas receive a solid 78.9 overall PFF grade.
This was a big jump from his rookie season, when he allowed 10 sacks on 615 pass block snaps. Thomas attributes his improved performance to having more experience playing in the NFL.
"I think it was one, consistency, and then just understanding the position a little more as far as understanding what rushers are looking at, if that makes sense," Thomas said on his jump in Year 2. "Like if they're timing rushers, are they reactive rushers, things like that. Understanding how leverage works as far as hand placement and depending on who you're going against…
"If you put something on film that's not good, it's going to come up again if you don't fix it. That's one thing I learned really quickly. If you don't fix something, they're going to take advantage of it. Then the next thing is just how much of a chess game it is. A lot of times, we look at measurable like how fast or how strong someone is. But when you really get down to it, it's the technique that makes the biggest difference I think."
Thomas made some stark improvements in his second NFL season, but the young tackle knows he still has a long road ahead of him.
"Just consistency in my set," Thomas responded when asked what areas he wanted to work on this off-season. "Making sure I'm taking the right angle, making sure my post foot is square to the line of scrimmage, things like that. Then just working on my hand placement and also learning the new scheme and how our new coaches want things to be done."
One of the new coaches on the staff is OL coach Bobby Johnson, who began his coaching career in the college ranks in 1995 and has been working in the NFL since 2010. Johnson comes to the Giants after serving in the same role for the Buffalo Bills over the past three years.
"The technique is a little different. He likes a little more of an ankle set, square to the line of scrimmage," Thomas said of Johnson. "He wants us to be the aggressors in pass pro. Get into the defensive end and make a move as quick as possible, things like that. I'm looking forward to it."
The Giants' offensive line dealt with a plethora of injuries last year, including season-ending ones to starters Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux within the first two weeks of the season. Injuries can obviously happen at any point, but the left tackle reiterated that the best thing for the entire unit will be to get as many snaps on the field together as possible.
"Across the whole offensive line, continuity is a huge thing," Thomas exclaimed. "This year, we had some vets come in that were in the system in Buffalo, so I think that will help us pick up the system and learn it. But playing together and getting snaps together makes a huge difference."
View photos of the New York Giants' 2022 roster as it currently stands.
Enter veteran center Jon Feliciano, who spent the past three seasons in Buffalo playing for Johnson and Brian Daboll, where he mastered all of the intricacies of Daboll's creative offensive playbook. Although it has only been a few months since the players received the new playbook, Feliciano is pleased with how his unit has been handling the new offensive scheme.
"It's been great. I know a lot of this offense already, so I'm just picking up where I left off, where I was before, and helping the guys here to get this offense down," said the veteran lineman, who is set to start the season at center for the first time in his NFL career. "There's a lot of things, a lot of code words, a lot of one-words. I think we're doing a good job so far. I'm excited to be here and excited for how things are going so far…
"These guys have done a great job of really honing in and learning these things. It's a little easier for a lineman. You can put a couple of plays in a box. You know, these plays mean this play for us. We don't have to worry about where to line up. We're going to be in the same spots every time. It's a lot easier for the O-linemen, a lot harder for the receivers and tight ends."
Thomas, who said his top goal for 2022 is to remain healthy for the entire season, will line up opposite rookie Evan Neal, who is set to man the right tackle position.
Neal is listed at 6-foot-7, 350 pounds. Even among the offensive linemen, the rookie stands out.
He hasn't played a down in the NFL yet, but the right tackle already has his teammates excited to see what he can do once the pads come on.
"You can tell he's eager to learn, he's asking questions," Thomas said about Neal. "His strength is good at practice. You can tell he's going to be a good player."
Said Feliciano: "He's doing a good job being a rookie, just doing the work and not talking too much. That dude is so big. He doesn't look 350, 360, whatever he is."
The list of new players in the room is quite long.
In addition to Neal, the Giants also drafted North Carolina linemen Joshua Ezeudu (third-round) and Marcus McKethan (fifth-round) in this year's draft. Meanwhile, Jamil Douglas and Matt Gono join Feliciano, Glowinski and Max Garcia as veterans brought in during free agency.
"I think we have a pretty tight-knit group already," Thomas said. "We haven't been together long, but everyone seems humble, everyone is working hard. We're kind of putting away the past. Whatever happened where you're from, that's over with. We're starting fresh and I'm looking forward to it."
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