The 2021 season is a pivotal campaign for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants. With Jones entering his third season, Big Blue must decide if the QB is the future or it must look to move on.
One key player in how that evaluation will go is left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thus far, it's been a struggle for the 2020 No. 4 overall pick.
With Jones taking his first preseason snaps Sunday night against New England, Thomas took his most reps of the exhibition season, 36, mirroring the starting QB. Unfortunately, things didn't go well for Thomas. He allowed 1.5 sacks, was called for a hold and gave up several more QB hits.
It wasn't a good sign of things to come after the left tackle mostly struggled during his rookie campaign before a couple of solid outings to end the season. Thomas is well aware of the burden he's under to keep Jones upright.
"There's definitely pressure," he said, via NJ.com. "I put pressure on myself. I know I've been given this role. And I worked hard to be here. So I have to step up and do what I have to do."
Thomas noted that there are things he must improve on, including his hand placement and sets against edge rushers. But the 22-year-old believes he's made strides in those areas.
"I think I made improvements [this offseason], but there are a lot of things I still need to work on," he said. "I'm trying to fix those things."
The Giants have preached patience with the young left tackle, noting that it's not easy to step in and master a quarterback's blind side while being left on an island.
"I think overall he's done a solid job for us," Giants coach Joe Judge said of the left tackle's training camp. "He's going to be a better player a month from now, two months from now, at the end of the season."
It's not hyperbolic to suggest that Thomas' growth this season is as vital as any non-QB on the roster. If he struggles, Jones will be swallowed, and the future will once again be a big mystery for Big Blue.