New York Giants right tackle Evan Neal spent a portion of his offseason training with retired NFL All-Pro Willie Anderson. During that time, Neal adjusted his stance with sights set on improving in 2023.
Neal and Anderson remain in contact via social media and the four-time Pro Bowler has become a believer in the 22-year-old.
“He admitted that he had a rough rookie year in some spots: Name me the offensive lineman who didn’t,” Anderson told the New York Post. “He has the ‘it’ factor in that he wants to figure out how to get over the hump. Every good lineman I’ve known who’s struggled but has the will to want to be good, they figure it out. He has self-pride inside him.”
Although Neal won’t make any excuses, a shift from the left side to the right side stunted his growth a bit as a rookie. Injuries didn’t help, either.
“I’ve seen Hall of Famers go from left tackle to right tackle and get their [expletive] whooped,” Anderson said. “It’s not because they are terrible players. When you change from left to right, you change the part of your brain that commands you to be stronger on your dominant leg and your inside arm. It throws guys off because it doesn’t feel stable.
“He was so staggered. I said, ‘Let’s try to get you comfortable — not a low stance, but a loaded stance where we can get that big body exploding but being balanced on contact.’ A lot of big, tall guys get too wide. I think he spent his whole rookie year trying to figure out how to change his dominant leg to the right side.”
Anderson doesn’t expect Neal to leave the gate on fire this coming season but believes that by the middle of the year, he’ll be dominating defenders like he had at Alabama.
“I’m looking forward to the middle of the season and the end of the season for the light to really come on,” Anderson said. “Him being a big cat mauling people. We saw it at Alabama the last two years because he was playing confidently. When that switch turns on, it’s hard to turn off.”
The Giants desperately need that switch to turn on and Neal knows that. He’s well aware of his importance to the team and is working his tail off to get things corrected.