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Giants Andrew Thomas Shares the Advice He Gave to Evan Neal

Andrew Thomas lent an ear and some support to his rookie teammate after he struggled Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

New York Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas was busy Monday night trying to keep his side of the offensive line clean against the Dallas Cowboys. 

But when he saw the film from that game in which teammate Evan Neal struggled to lock down the right side, Thomas no doubt had some flashbacks to his rookie season in which the ease that he seemingly enjoys these days in thwarting pass rushers from penetrating the backfield wasn't initially there.

Thomas, a team captain, took it upon himself to pull Neal, who, like Thomas, is a first-round draft pick who struggled out of the gate in his first season, to give him some advice.

And that was?

“Just encouraging him to keep working and to have a short-term memory, but just a reminder that the stuff that you put on film, the rushers next week, they’re watching that," Thomas said Wednesday. 

"Just a reminder to clean that up and keep working on the technique. He’s a talented kid and has all the tools in the world. He’s mature, so I’m confident in him.”

Thomas revealed that among the pieces of advice he gave Neal was a reminder of what head coach Brian Daboll always says, which is to worry more about the process than the results. 

"Sometimes you’re trying to do something a certain way or do something a coach teaches, and it doesn’t work, you’re quick to do whatever. You just have to stay focused on the process and getting better," he said.

Another tidbit? Don't listen to the critics who might be screaming that Neal is a bust, as was the case when Thomas struggled through his rookie season and had to learn that lesson the hard way.

"Just doing your best to focus on what you can control," Thomas said. "You can’t control what people say about you. All you can control is what you put on film, and that has to be your main focus." 

Neal, who yielded two sacks against Cowboys outside linebacker Demarcus Lawrence, was understandably despondent after that performance on Monday night. 

"I just got to play better. There’s no other way to call it," he said after the game, adding that his set angles weren't what they needed to be. "I can get technical with you all day, but I just gotta play better. There’s no other way to slice it or sugarcoat it. I gotta play a better brand of football."

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Thomas's advice about a short-term memory is key, as if Neal hangs onto his performance from Monday night, that could open the door for doubt to creep into his head.

But to his credit, Neal is as mature of a rookie as one will find, and with Thomas in his ear, the hope is that he'll rebound this weekend against the Chicago Bears. 

“It’s a short week, so we had to put it to bed quickly," Thomas said. "We’re already moved on to game planning for the Bears."

Thomas acknowledged that it's not easy to let go of a bad performance, especially when one was as dominating in college as Neal was with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

But Thomas was left encouraged by Neal's demeanor and thinks he has the right frame of mind to move on.

"It’s frustrating, but I think he has a good attitude about it. He’s always asking me about different pointers and asking questions in the meeting room, just trying to get better every day. I think he has the right mindset," Thomas said.

Thomas was also quick to point out that Neal wasn't the only one who struggled against the Cowboys, that it was the whole offensive line that contributed to 12 hits and five sacks against quarterback Daniel Jones.

"We understand that we didn’t play to the caliber that we want to," Thomas said. "Too much pressure and some plays in the run game that we definitely could’ve had more explosive runs if we got better movement."

Thomas wasn't interested in receiving any kudos for keeping his side of the line relatively clean.

"We all have to play as a unit. That’s the beauty of an offensive line. Four guys could be doing their job perfectly, and one guy doesn’t, and it’s a bad play," he said. 

"My focus is not just on myself but the whole O-line group to perform better. That starts with me. It’s not just in a leadership role as far as talking to guys, but how I play there are things on film – some things I wish I had back. Some things I wish I could do a little bit better to help out my teammates and just work on that every day to get better." 

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