Andrew Thomas was lambasted after a shoddy preseason outing, and all the negative vibes from his 2020 rookie season came flowing back. But that was not indicative of the solid summer he put together with the Giants, and the criticism was an overreaction.
Three games into what is heading toward another lost year for a team that seems allergic to winning, no one is singing Thomas’ praises — because an 0-3 record breeds misery, not compliments. One player can only contribute so much, though, and Thomas is doing plenty to show he might work out just fine, after all.
“I think I’m doing OK, but we’re not winning, so it doesn’t matter,’’ Thomas said. “Just trying to do the best I can to make myself better and the offensive line better, which will make our offense better and we can score more points and get some Ws.’’
Thomas, selected No. 4 overall in the 2020 draft, is doing more than OK. On a line decimated by injuries, Thomas has been a rock. He has played all 200 offensive snaps in the first three games. He has not allowed a sack in 134 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, after giving up 10 sacks in his down-and-up rookie year. He has allowed just five pressures this season, keeping Daniel Jones clean and protected from his blind side.
Serious and level-headed, Thomas can self-assess his performance and provide honest analysis, as if reading off a spreadsheet.
“I think this year I’m doing a little bit better with my sets, getting to the spot a little bit better with hand placement,’’ he said. “The thing I want to improve on is double teams in the run game. I think my base blocks on the D-ends have been pretty good but I got to get better on my double teams, getting up to the ’backers and second-level blocks.’’
The more proficient the 22-year-old Thomas is at completing his blocks, the more likely it will be that Saquon Barkley starts ripping off the runs of 10 or more yards the offense desperately needs.
The Giants are reliant on Thomas paving the way for them on the offensive line. They have not exactly paved the way for him, as far as providing the continuity every young player needs.
Sunday in New Orleans, Thomas will line up at left tackle next to a fourth different left guard in four games. Shane Lemieux started in Week 1 against the Broncos, then was put on injured reserve after exacerbating a knee injury. Nick Gates was moved from center and started at left guard in Week 2 at Washington, but in the second quarter he was lost for the season after suffering multiple lower leg fractures. Ben Bredeson, acquired in a trade with the Ravens on the last day of August, started at left guard against the Falcons, but came out of the game with an injury to his left hand and was ruled out for this week’s game.
In what has been a cursed spot, it looks as if Matt Skura — signed in August to the practice squad after he was released by the Dolphins — will play left guard against the Saints. Skura, 28, has 51 NFL starts the past four years for the Ravens, mostly at center.
It has been quite a whirlwind for Thomas, who has been asked to partner with a newcomer each week.
“It’s hard to build camaraderie with guys going down but it’s part of the business, next man up, can’t make excuses, got to make it work,’’ Thomas said.
“Mostly just understanding how the guy next to me plays. Sometimes you play with a guy for a while you know the way he sees blocks, the way he sees certain rushers and communicates. Sometimes you don’t have to say it when you’ve played with a guy for a while. The important thing is overcommunication, making sure no one’s confused.’’
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