New York Giants rookie right tackle Evan Neal understands his responsibility. And, he knows being effective at it doesn’t always mean it has to look pretty.
“My job is to keep guys off of the quarterback, so whatever way possible,” Neal said on Tuesday.
“Whatever way works best in that moment that’s what I’m going to use. Rather I’ve got to aggressively set a guy, or I’ve got to be more patient and take an angle set. Whatever way I need to get the job done that’s how I’m going to get the job done.”
Neal has had some good and some bad moments throughout the first couple of weeks of his initial NFL training camp. He has been solid in 11-on-11 work but had some rough patches in 1-on-1 drills, which are geared more toward giving the pass rusher an advantage, anyway.
Neal, who both he and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson have admitted in the past can be hard on himself, is learning to “turn the page” when a rep doesn’t go the way he would like it to go.
“I’m at the highest level so obviously, you’re going to win some, and you’re going to lose some, but the most important thing is to keep on fighting and win the next play,” Neal said.
The No. 7 overall pick out of Alabama is at right tackle, a spot he hasn’t played for a couple of years. He is also adapting to Johnson’s teachings.
“I think a lot of kids, especially tackles, set a particular way,” Johnson said on Tuesday. ‘We set differently, just based philosophically on how we want to protect the quarterback ... he’s making tremendous strides every day.”
Johnson said the Fan Fest scrimmage was Neal’s “best practice” of training camp.
“We all have higher expectations of him, and he is the type of kid that will constantly work toward those expectations,” Johnson said. “He’s doing a good job, a really good job.
“Everybody wants him to be really good, but I don’t think everybody wants him to be as good as he wants to be.”
Johnson said his philosophy is “pass pro’s not passive ... it has to be aggressive.”
Neal likes that philosophy.
“I never believed that pass protection was passive by any means,” he said. “You can look at my college tape, anytime I got the opportunity I would clean the pocket, stop guys at the line of scrimmage, get on guys quick, and shut them down. So, I definitely agree with that philosophy because nothing is passive about pass protection at all.”
Neal said he understands he needs to be a better technician at the NFL level.
“Well in the past, in college I got great coaching from Alabama as well. But a lot of times they just kind of let the talented players just play, just play their game,” Neal said. “At the NFL level, a lot of guys are more technical at what they do, so I have to become more of a technician as well. So that’s definitely something that the coaches have been trying to emphasize and mold me to being a technician for sure.”
Johnson has no issue thus far with Neal’s run blocking.
“He’s the size of a bus,” Johnson said. “You get in the way of it you’re probably going to get moved.”
Neal is certainly not overwhelmed by the NFL stage.
“Well, I like to say I fear God. Nothing really intimidates me about this sport. It can be an intimidating sport going up against world-class athletes but I’m here for a reason as well. You’re just going to go out there and compete,” Neal said.
“I definitely know I belong, and I can play at this level. Camp has been getting me better. I feel like I have been getting other guys better as well. I’m just excited, the time’s going to tell. It’s exciting to go out there and continue to compete, get better with my teammates, and hopefully win some ball games.”