Evan Neal, the Giants’ first-year right tackle, said that this season has been a crash course in how things work in the NFL.
“I feel like it was a learning year for me,” Neal said this week. “I had some ups. I had some downs. I had to battle through some adversity, getting hurt, battling back, coming back. So, I feel like it was a growing year for me — a learning year. And I feel like I handled myself the best way I know how.”
The next lesson will come Saturday night when Neal plays for the Giants in their NFC divisional game against the Eagles. Neal’s job will be to slow down Haason Reddick, an Eagles linebacker who had 16 sacks for Philadelphia this season. Daniel Jones has to stay on his feet against a defense that had the most sacks in the NFL during the regular season.
“They have good players all across the board, so their coaches let those guy’s rush,” Neal said. “They run some twist games. They pressure. But really, they have good players. So, they let their good players eat.”
The Giants took Neal with the seventh pick in the NFL Draft last spring, hoping that he would be another strong offensive lineman. He started on Day 1 at right tackle.
His rookie season has been up and down, and he missed four games in the middle because of a sprained MCL. PFF says that Neal gave up eight sacks this season.
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In early December, when the Giants and Eagles played for the first time, Neal gave up a sack and eight QB pressures. That day, the Giants gave up 12 quarterback hits and 7 sacks.
Neal, who went to college at Alabama and played in a lot of big games there, said he is not going to make this game against the Eagles bigger than it needs to be.
“I look at it as another football game,” Neal said. “Obviously, it’s a big game with big implications. And obviously we want to win. But the game’s always going to be the game the way I see it.”
Neal hurt his ankle in practice while the Giants were getting ready for their wild-card game against the Vikings. Even though he was hurt, he still played every offensive snap in that game, which led to eight sacks. Neal said there is nothing wrong with the ankle.
“I’m good. I’m ready,” he said. “At this point in the year, you’re not going to find a guy that’s not banged up in some way, shape or form. But I’m standing up. I’m ready.”
Rookie right tackle for the Giants, Evan Neal, has described this season as a “crash course” in the NFL. Last year, the Giants picked Neal seventh overall in the NFL Draft with the expectation that he would be a key contributor on their offensive line… Neal, who appeared in many pressure situations when playing for Alabama, claims he will not make the Eagles game any more significant than it already is.