EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Andrew Thomas has seen some of the NFL's top passer rushers in his first two games and the rookie left tackle didn't disappoint the New York Giants.
The fourth pick overall in the draft went against Bud Dupree of the Steelers in the season opener, and got a mix of Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack against the Bears last weekend.
The Georgia product was supposed to face NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. He won't. The defensive end tore his ACL against the Jets last weekend and is out for the season.
The 49ers have not said who will start for Bosa. It could be Kerry Hyder or Ziggy Ansah, but the Giants are confident Thomas will put up a fight.
“He’s gone against two great pass rushers and he’s held his own for the most part,” Giants offensive line coach Marc Colombo said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement and Andrew knows this. It’s really good for him to get these type of pass rushers right off the bat because his whole entire career is going to be these type of pass rushers."
Thomas expects more challenges on Sunday, noting the 49ers have depth in their front seven.
“You have to be very specific in your technique every play,” Thomas said. “You can’t get lulled to sleep. You can’t revert to old habits. You have to make sure you have the same technique. The biggest thing for me is having different types of sets, different types of approaches to guys. If you do the same thing over and over, they will adjust to it.”
After being drafted, there was speculation whether Thomas would be given the job at left tackle over incumbent Nate Solder. When the former Patriot opted out for the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, there was little question who would replace him.
Thomas said the most surprising thing so far is the game is not all about speed and power. It's a part of the game, but there is more to blocking a defensive lineman.
“They understand what they’re doing,” Thomas said. “They take advantage of things you might do. In college you might overset or you might be too long with your outside hand punch. In the NFL, they take advantage of everything you do that might not be correct.”
Colombo said Thomas and the entire line made progress last week. Now it's a matter of taking what they do in practice and bringing it to the field for 60 minutes.
After two weeks, the Giants are last in the league in rushing, averaging 52 yards. Quarterback Daniel Jones leads the team with 43 yards on seven carries. The running game lost its biggest threat last weekend when Saquon Barkley tore an ACL in his right knee. He had 19 carries for 34 yards before being hurt, including 6 yards on 15 carries against Pittsburgh.
Thomas said the team wants to be dominant both passing and running, but it needs to improve.
“I think we have the mentality to be physical and move guys off the ball,” Thomas said. “We’ve been working on our technique making sure we’re refining our technique to make sure we move guys off the ball.”
It has not happened yet.
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