For the first time in his career, New England center David Andrews will not start the season with Tom Brady as his quarterback, but he is appreciative to return to the team after missing last season with blood clots in his lungs. Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

 

The last time David Andrews played a meaningful game, he walked off the field with confetti flying in the air.

The Patriots had just beaten the Rams 13-3 in the 2019 Super Bowl for the team’s sixth championship, and the second for its starting center.

A lot has changed since then.

Andrews wasn’t able to play last season due to blood clots in his lungs. And now that he’s been cleared to return, he no longer has Tom Brady as his quarterback, or Dante Scarnecchia as his offensive line coach.

New England Patriots center David Andrews missed all of last season with blood clots in his lungs. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

So he’s down two legends.

Add a global pandemic preventing him from getting back to the sport he loves in earnest, and it all seems like a bad dream.

Andrews, however, is dealing with reality just fine. He’s taken it all in stride, and is moving ahead. And while he didn’t go into great detail, he’s just thrilled he can play football again.

“It was definitely an interesting situation,” Andrews said via video conference Tuesday. “I’m very fortunate that I am able to continue playing this game.”

Andrews expressed appreciation for all the support he received in wake of his medical issue, thanking his family, friends, his wife, as well as the organization, pointing to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, along with members of the coaching and medical staffs.

Andrews was around the team all year, helping out with the offensive line. But there’s nothing quite like being active.

“I was doing whatever I could to help the football team, but that’s in the past … I’m just looking forward to moving forward, and getting back to being a football player again,” Andrews said. “I’m really excited to get back out there whenever we can.”

In terms of any restrictions, Andrews indicated he hadn’t been informed of any. As for a possible recurrence, Andrews preferred not going into the medical details of his case, which is understandable, although he did say the possibility of a recurrence wasn’t something the doctors could pin down.

“I’m just going to go about my life, keep playing this game, and do whatever I can to stay as healthy as I can,” he said. “I think it was just kind of a freak accident thing … What happened, happened. You can’t live your life in fear if it’s going to happen or not. It’s a violent game and things happen. There’s a lot of things that can happen. I just want to move forward from that.”

Time on the sidelines has given him a new perspective, or a greater appreciation for being able to do what’s required for the job.

“Any time you miss a season … it makes you take a step back, and miss and enjoy the grind a little bit. I still came into work every day, but I wasn’t out there competing with the guys. I wasn’t out there working with them. And you miss that,” he said. “Sometimes I think we take health and stuff like that for granted. It definitely makes you appreciative … As a competitor and guy who wants to play football, it sucks not being out there.”

And now he returns with a different team than when he last played. He acknowledged turnover is part of the business but it will still be an adjustment without Brady and Scarnecchia.

Andrews said of his longtime offensive line coach: “Scar meant so much to me. He taught me so much. He still means a lot to me. I’m thankful for … the friendship we have. Scar will always be around. That relationship extends more than football.”

Of Brady, Andrews said it was an awesome experience to be able to play with one of the game’s all-time greats.

“It’s always a special bond,” he said. “We’ll remain friends for life.”

Looking ahead, Andrews indicated it was helpful having worked with both Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Naturally, it will be a challenge without Brady, but having a relationship with both quarterbacks should make the transition easier.

Andrews referred to Stidham as being “a great kid” and someone he’s already built a bond with, because “it’s obviously one play away from anyone playing.” He also anticipated huge growth 2 for Stidham, who is expected to assume the starter’s job in his second year.

As for the Patriots being written off by various NFL experts, Andrews shrugged that off. People are going to have opinions. The players have heard that before, even with Brady.

“Coach Belichick brings in great football players,” said Andrews. “We have a lot of great guys in this locker room that are committed to winning … that’s the tradition of guys, and how they handle situations.

As one of the in-house leaders in the locker room, Andrews said the loss of an icon shouldn’t force them to change their routines or their outlook.

“Be who you are … it is what it is,” he said. “Being in the NFL, it’s part of this business. There doesn’t need to be a Superman anywhere. We just need to go out there and do our jobs collectively as a group. Provide good leadership, even if Brady is here or not here. That’s our job. That’s what we’ll try to do.”

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