Giants Still Have Faith in OT Evan Neal

As Neal faces a big year ahead, the team continues to have his back.
Sep 11, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) leaves the field after warmups before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) leaves the field after warmups before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

Of late, New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal has cut something of a lonely figure. He was dialed back after participating in early OTA workouts due to his continued rehab from a season-ending ankle issue that required surgery.

Neal, the seventh overall pick in the 2022 draft, is facing a critical season ahead in which he and he alone can put an end to the growing chatter and concern about whether he can be an effective right tackle in the NFL or if he’s headed ow the same path as another Giants first-round offensive tackle, Ereeck Flowers, did.

For now, all Neal can do is work to get himself physically and mentally ready for training camp, which begins on July 24. And despite what appears to be an appearance of being detached from his teammates, there remains enough support from his coach and his teammates as he looks to get on track. 

“That's what we're hoping for,” said head coach Brian Daboll when asked if Neal is still someone he feels he can count on. 

“He's in here, he’s working his butt off, and hopefully when everybody gets back, I'm hopeful we're going to have everybody ready to go in terms of how (Senior Vice President of Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes has set it up and Aaron Wellman has set it up. They've done a good job.”

Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Mike Kafka agreed.

“ Absolutely, I can count on Evan Neal,” he said. “He's going through his rehab process, and I know he's eager to get out there. All those meetings in the O-line room, he's asking great questions and really into it and trying to get better. On the medical side, our staff is going to take care of him and make sure he's on schedule. Whenever he's ready to go, he'll be ready to go.”

Neal did not speak to the media at any point in the spring, so it’s hard to know what his state of mind is regarding his confidence level or how he is feeling. The organization’s reports of him being engaged are certainly a positive sign, but a more telling sign will be what kind of swagger Neal shows once he is medically cleared to be on the field.

Jermaine Eluemunor, a veteran offensive lineman signed by the Giants earlier this year as a free agent, knows a bit about struggling with one’s confidence as a young player.

“If you look back at my past career, confidence was something I really struggled with. It was the time in my rookie year when I started two games in a row and didn't do enough to stick,” he said. 

“Then I got traded to New England, and then I was in Miami for a stint, and then I got cut. That week, I thought my career was done. And then the Raiders took a chance on me, and then there was a time where I didn't get signed, and I didn't have a team, and luckily Raiders wanted me back, and I kind of knew -- if you look back at it like two years ago, that was it for me. I didn't know if another team was going to take a chance on me.”

Eluemunor, who aspired to be a successful player int he league did the only thing he could: put his head down and work his tail off. White with the Raiders, he went against superstar MAxx Crosby, whom he credits for making him a better player and putting him ont he right road.

Neal, with the Giants, appears to be in a similar boat. Once he’s cleared to return, he can sharpen his skills against outside linebackers Brian Burns and Kayvon Thibodeaux, the same as how Eluemunor went against Crosby.

And if Neal needs a little pick me up at any point, Eluemunor is only too happy to share his experiences and his advice, no matter who it is. 

“If I can go out there and help these young guys become the players, I know they're capable of being, too, that's dope for me,” he said. “That's what I want to be and who I want to be. Just show guys that it doesn't matter where you are right now. If you keep working with your head down, the sky is the limit.”

Which is what the Giants hope will become of Neal in 2024. 



Published |Modified
Patricia Traina

PATRICIA TRAINA

Patricia Traina has covered the New York Giants for over three decades for various media outlets. She is the host of the Locked On Giants podcast and the author of "The Big 50: New York Giants: The Men and Moments that Made the New York Giants" (Triumph Books, September 2020). View Patricia's full bio.