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Given the extreme challenges facing any NFL rookie without an on-field spring indoctrination and a training camp conducted amid a pandemic, the task up ahead for Andrew Thomas is exceedingly difficult.

The first-round draft pick, selected No. 4 overall, was expected to compete and win a starting job.

When veteran left tackle Nate Solder on Wednesday opted out for the 2020 season, citing COVID-19 concerns for his family, Thomas moved up on the depth chart and the Giants now need him to mature and develop quickly and settle into the starting spot at left tackle.

Thomas will not have any preseason games to work out the kinks. This should be enough to make queasy the stomach of any head coach, but Joe Judge is not sounding overly concerned about entrusting the blind-side protection of Daniel Jones to a youngster.

“The age of a player doesn’t really ever bother me,’’ Judge said Friday. “We bring guys in to play. This isn’t college, where you bring guys in and they give you a redshirt year.’’

Judge is not handing Thomas, or anyone else, anything.

“We still have to get on the field and practice and evaluate,’’ Judge said.

Andrew ThomasAP

Judge said he wanted Solder to play this season but “At the end of the day, I’m not going to try to talk any player into doing anything when it comes to the situation we’re in right now.’’

At this point, Judge said no other player has indicated he is considering opting out for the season.

Solder’s departure gives the Giants between $13 million and $16 million — the calculations vary — in extra salary space, but it does not appear they will use that money on a big signing or two.

“We don’t feel right now like we have money burning a hole in our pocket,’’ Judge said.

DeAndre Baker, the second-year cornerback (and 2019 first-round draft pick) currently on the Commissioner’s Exempt List as he deals with legal issues, was not a talking point for Judge.

“He’s not on our 90-man roster … I’ll let the league deal with that issue,’’ he said.

Judge said LB Markus Golden, back with the Giants on an unrestricted free-agent tender of $4.1 million, has not yet cleared the five-day COVID-19 testing protocols.

“Once these players clear that process, I’ll be happy to talk about all of them,’’ Judge said.

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2020 PGA Championship: What to know about the event

The 2020 PGA Championship will be the first major tournament event of the PGA Tour season since the coronavirus pandemic forced the alteration of the schedule.

The event was originally scheduled to take place May 14-17 and be the second major of the season after the Masters. But the pandemic forced the postponement of nearly all events, pushing the PGA Championship back to August and the Masters to November.

Brooks Koepka enters as the two-time defending champion and will be looking for the elusive third consecutive title. Should he win the event, it will be the first time a golfer has won the tournament three straight times since Walter Hagen won the event four times in a row from 1924 to 1927.

The coronavirus pandemic has also forced the tournament, which is being held at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, to be played without fans. Some golfers have decided to opt-out of the tournament.

Some of the withdrawals include: Ryan Moore, Branden Grace, John Daly, Vijay Singh, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, Paul Waring, Francesco Molinari, Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang, Thomas Pieters, Shugo Imahira, Lee Westwood and Eddie Pepperell.


Here are other things to know about the event.


WHERE: TPC Harding Park, San Francisco

WHEN: August 6-9

PURSE: $11 million





FILE - In this May 19, 2019, file photo, Brooks Koepka poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament, in Farmingdale, N.Y. Koepka begins a new season this week in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Brooks Koepka became the first golfer to win back-to-back PGA Championships since Tiger Woods did it in 2006 and 2007. At Bethpage Black, he shot 8-under par and held off Dustin Johnson by two strokes.


Koepka won his second major title in 2018. He held off Woods by two strokes finishing 16-under par at Bellerive Country Club in Missouri.


Justin Thomas celebrates after making a birdie on the 18th green during the final round at the BMW Championship golf tournament at Medinah Country Club, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Medinah, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Justin Thomas captured his lone PGA Championship with a two-stroke victory over Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, and Patrick Reed. Thomas shot 8-under par.


Jimmy Walker captured his only major tournament title in 2016 at the PGA Championship. Walker scored a 14-under par. He defeated Jason Day by one stroke.


Day won his first PGA Championship in 2015 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. He defeated Jordan Spieth by three strokes.

Ryan Gaydos is a sports reporter for and Follow him on Twitter @Gaydos_

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