Giants offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal during training...

Giants offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal during training camp. Credit: Brad Penner / Noah K. Murray

Andrew Thomas returned from offseason ankle surgery to play left tackle in Wednesday’s first practice of training camp. The Giants were happy to have him back but also tickled to get their first real look at what they hope will be the long-term bookends of their offensive line for many years to come.

Opposite Thomas, the third-year pro, was right tackle Evan Neal, a first-round pick in April’s draft.

“Evan is a very talented kid, a physical freak,” Thomas said of his fellow tackle who is listed as two inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than he is. “He just works hard every day, doesn’t say much, keeps his head down.”

While the Giants overhauled the interior of their offensive line with veterans in free agency, including projected starters Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano, they plan on having Thomas and Neal in place for a while. Thomas is the only returning starter from last season and said he is trying to take on more leadership and be more vocal this season.

As for the aim of the unit as a whole, Thomas said it is simple: “The goal is to be dominant, to be the bell cows of the offense.”

Having the two tackles who are huge parts of that plan in place for the start of camp was a plus.

Notes & quotes: LB Blake Martinez, who suffered a torn ACL last September, was cleared to participate in practices after his physical upon reporting to camp on Tuesday. Before then he was unsure if he would be able to work with the team or start the season on PUP . . . TE Daniel Bellinger was activated from PUP on Wednesday. The fourth-round pick had a calf injury when he reported to camp last week with the other rookies. He took the majority of the first-team reps at tight end . . . Giants linemen and linebackers wore extra padding on their helmets to help reduce the risk of concussions during collisions. “Overall you don’t really notice it until someone makes fun of you,” Martinez said of the effective but somewhat unattractive devices. “Everyone wants to be swagged out these days and you have this big airbag on top of your helmet. People notice it.” . . . GM Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll raved about the work OL Nick Gates has done to rehab the ghastly fractured leg he suffered last September. Once considered a career-threatening injury, Schoen suggested that it is not far-fetched for Gates, who is on PUP, to possibly appear in a preseason game this summer . . . The Giants signed OT Garrett McGhin and waived OT Kamaal Seymour.

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