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Giants Now: NFL.com chooses Evan Neal as Giants 'pivotal rookie'

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NFL.com chooses Evan Neal as 'pivotal rookie'

Based on the moves made this offseason, it was clear that the offensive line was a big priority of Joe Schoen's upon his arrival as general manager.

After signing a couple of veteran linemen in free agency, Schoen then drafted Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick, adding him as a bookend on the O-line opposite left tackle Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein recently chose "one pivotal rookie" for each team across the league, where the rookie tackle was the pick for the Giants.

Zierlein pointed out that "stability up front is absolutely critical" and how a strong performance from Neal, along with continued growth from Thomas, could help shore up the O-line and provide a big boost to the entire offense.

"He's worked very hard," offensive line coach Bobby Johnson said to the media recently about Neal. "He's a guy that pushes himself. For me, my role with him is to make sure that he sees that positive and doesn't focus on the negatives. So, he's working through them. And as a matter of fact, the open scrimmage in the stadium was probably his best practice. But we all have higher expectations of him, and he is the type of kid that will constantly work to those expectation. So, he's doing a good job. A very good job...

"He takes constructive criticism very well, and he does not dwell on too much praise. So, I think he's got a really good temperament, and everybody wants him to be really good. But I don't think everybody wants him to be as good as he wants to be. So, I think we got the right mindset going forward."

View the best photos from Thursday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Saquon Barkley willing to do what it takes

Saquon Barkley has lost patience for outsiders who question his running style. Or, in his words, he is "fed up."

The Giants' fifth year back has been questioned for sometimes running to the side or taking a handoff and then hesitating before pushing his way forward. Some of that that is due to the paucity of defined holes resulting from the team's issues on the offensive line. Barkley has often searched in vain for daylight.

Coach Brian Daboll, reviewing the running backs' performance a day after the preseason opener last week in New England, said of Barkley's four-carry outing, "I thought he hit the ball downhill, didn't dance."

Yesterday, Barkley was asked if there has "been a conscious effort for you to get north and south and get the ball upfield?" That lit a fuse on what has clearly been a simmering issue for Barkley.

"No. To be honest, that's just part of my game," he said. "As a running back, understanding the scheme. Understanding what I got to do. This is probably the last time I'm going to speak on this, I know people want to say, 'Dancing and he don't get north and south.' But I'm not just going to run into any of my linemen's back. That's not how I play the game. That's how I've been playing since I was eight years old. I've been playing this position for a very long time, and by no means am I the perfect running back, and I still got so much work to do.

"But I know that's been the conversation or been a thought or been a thing out there that's said about me it, 'He don't know what he's doing. He's just dancing back there.' I'm really kind of fed up with people who never played a position try to speak on how I run a position. We call them all pros with clickers in their hand. Running back is a tough position, but it's easy to be there and watch football and watch on T.V. or even watch on film and stop the clicker and say, 'Oh, he should've made that cut.' There's a lot of things that go into making that cut. There's a lot of things like your shoulders being square. There's a lot of things that have an impact on your vision. So, but the coaches have to make a point of emphasis a running style that we have as a team and a mentality that we have as a team. And like I said, I'm going to do whatever coach wants me to do. And that's been my focus, trying to be the best running back I can for this team."

From Nigeria to New York | Roy Mbaeteka: Journey to the NFL (Ep. 1)

In collaboration with the NFL, "Roy Mbaeteka: Journey to the NFL" is a three-part docuseries that follows Mbaeteka as he takes his next step 5,000 miles from his Nigerian home, where he was discovered by Giants legend Osi Umenyiora. Episode 1 begins with how Mbaeteka not only discovered his love for the game in Nigeria but also caught the attention of the New York Football Giants.

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