There is no wading into an NFL career, especially as an offensive lineman. It’s a straight dive. You either do a good job of stopping the best pass rushers in the sport or you find yourself on the sideline watching someone else do your job. It can be daunting, but Andrew Thomas sees the glamour in it.
Two weeks into his career, Thomas, a rookie left tackle out of Georgia, already has seen some of the best. Whether it was Pittsburgh linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree in Week 1 or Chicago’s Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack in Week 2, it’s been tough matchup after tough matchup. And Thomas loves it.
"That’s the beauty of the NFL," he said Friday before a Week 3 matchup against the 49ers. "It’s every week. You’re going against some of the best rushers in the world, especially at left tackle. I have to be prepared every week. It was a great start, going against guys like that. Some of those guys are the cream of the crop in the NFL, so it’s a good start for me."
This week, another cream-of-the-crop type — San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa — will not face the Giants after suffering a season-ending ACL injury last week against the Jets. But in the NFL, everyone is good, and Thomas knows you can’t have off days.
"All of those guys are talented," he said. "So we just have to be prepared. It’s a very challenging defensive line across the board.
"You have to be very specific in your technique every play. You can’t get lulled to sleep and 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 and approaches to guys, because if you do the same thing over and over, they’ll adjust to it."
The Giants took Thomas with the fourth overall pick. Through the first two weeks, he has played every offensive snap, and the Giants’ coaching staff has been pleased with his work.
"Every week, there’s going to be a stud just sitting there right up over him and he’s got to block him," offensive line coach Marc Colombo said Wednesday. "He’s done a good job of that so far. We’ve got to keep pushing and he’s going to keep seeing these guys, so he’s capable of shutting down anybody he wants to . . . I like where he’s going right now, where he’s headed. [He] just has to clean up a few things."
Coach Joe Judge said he already can see that Thomas’ future looks bright.
"Not everything has been perfect," Judge said. "This guy is learning, but he’s really competing and he’s progressing. This guy has the ability to be a really good player in this league for some time."
And in the NFL, it is invaluable to have a long-tenured left tackle who can shut down the best defenders in the game.
Notes & quotes: Giants DB Adrian Colbert (quadriceps) is listed as doubtful and DB Brandon Williams (groin) is questionable . . . 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) and TE George Kittle (knee) won’t play. QB Nick Mullens will start. "This is the National Football League, so backups aren’t bad players. We have to really dial in," Giants safety Julian Love said. "You know [Mullens] has it. We may not have been able to see it that much, but he’s a guy that can really throw the ball."