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Giants’ Evan Neal, Daniel Bellinger, Azeez Ojulari look forward to returns

Trio of injured players could return to action on Sunday

Carolina Panthers v New York Giants
Evan Neal
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The New York Giants are hoping to be significantly healthier on Sunday against the Washington Commanders than they have been in several weeks. Three of the players the Giants are hoping to get back into their lineup — offensive tackle Evan Neal, tight end Daniel Bellinger and edge defender Azeez Ojulari — offered updates to the media Tuesday on their potential availability.

Evan Neal: “Really promising” practice on Tuesday

The rookie right tackle has been out since suffering a sprained MCL Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. There was some hope Neal would play last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but the short week made it impossible for Neal to get in the kind of work he and the training staff felt he needed to fully test his health.

With the Giants in full pads on Tuesday, Neal got the type of test he was looking for.

“I definitely got my live reps that I’ve been asking for,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything. Felt good, really promising.”

Tyre Phillips has filled in at right tackle in Neal’s absence.

Head coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday that the padded practice was the Giants’ first since before their Week 9 game against the Houston Texans.

“You can see where you’re at. You know, the injured guys can see how much you can do. If you need to keep going or if you need to reel it back. That’s definitely the benefit of having padded practices,” Neal said. “Obviously, in the NFL, it’s unrealistic to have padded practices every day. I know in some places they do or whatever. It’s just good to go out there and take those live reps during the week.”

Daniel Bellinger: No apprehension about hitting

Tuesday was the first time Bellinger had gone through any contact since suffering a fractured eye socket against the Jaguars.

“The thing today was to see how I felt about the eye, and I wasn’t apprehensive about it,” Bellinger said. “I felt good going out there, and I felt comfortable hitting, and I didn’t feel like I had to slow up or anything like that. I felt comfortable going out there and just playing ball.”

The rookie tight end said he no longer has the double vision he experienced for a while following surgery.

“The final step is to just see how I feel about it, but it’s still going day by day and step by step to see how I feel,” Bellinger said. “It’s about obviously the hitting stuff which I feel comfortable with, but it’s also seeing the strain that the eye takes because the muscles when they took that blow, just kind of seeing the strain that they take with the physical activity each day.”

Bellinger will wear a visor to ensure that he doesn’t get hit in the eye again. That is something he admits having to adjust to.

“That’s another thing is just getting used to that visor when I hit, and the sweat comes off it,” Bellinger said. “I never had to wear one like that so just kind of getting used to that as well.”

Azeez Ojulari: “Rocky” season could end on good note

This has been a frustrating sophomore season for Azeez Ojulari. On Tuesday, he used the word “rocky” to describe it.

Ojulari injured his right calf in training camp during a joint practice against the New York Jets. That caused him to miss the first two games of the season. He injured his left calf Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, aggravated the injury while trying to work his way back and has not played since that Bears game.

Ojulari said the season “for sure” has not gone the way he had envisioned. Now, though, he can be part of a team that is trying to finish off the season with an unexpected playoff berth.

“Just go one game at a time and give my all every game. At the end of the year, we’ll see what it is,” Ojulari said. “Every game I want to take it to another level. Just bring it, all I got for the team for whatever I do to help the team win. At the end of the day, all we want to do is win on this long stretch. We got the last few games and just go compete.”