David Andrews is ready to move on to moving bodies again.
The Patriots center, who missed all of last season as he recovered from blood clots in his lungs, announced during the draft that he had received the all-clear to return to the NFL trenches, where he gained a reputation for helping spearhead an offensive line that went to three straight Super Bowls.
Despite not being able to suit up and compete with his teammates, Andrews, a two-time captain, was always around in 2019, attending practices and games in a quasi-coaching capacity.
Now, he’s looking forward to resuming his career when the league deems it’s safe to do so.
“It’s great. That’s what I want to do. I came here to play football,” Andrews said during a Tuesday video call. “Not being out there, anybody that’s hurt … it’s tough on an athlete. We want to compete. We want to be out there. When you can’t do that, it’s obviously frustrating and tough. It was great to finally get that [clearance]. I want to move forward now and look forward to 2020.”
Andrews first noticed a problem during the first day of last year’s training camp. As the summer progressed, he experienced chest pains, had trouble breathing, and even coughed up some blood. It culminated in a hospital stay where the clots were discovered. He was put on medication that wiped out his season.
Andrews enters 2020 free of any reservations about returning.
“I’m not really sure if there’s a real restriction to anything. I haven’t been told that,” Andrews said. “Part of it was the medicine I was on, and I’m off that medicine. I can go about living my normal life. The reoccurrence thing, it’s something unfortunately they can’t really pin down. I’m just going to go about my life, keep playing this game, doing what I can, staying as healthy as I can. Think it was kind of a freak accident … You can’t live your life in fear if it’s going to happen again or not. It’s a violent game and things happen. There’s a lot of things that happen. That’s just life.’’
Andrews said his 2019 experience did force him to “take a step back” and look at football from a different perspective, but he still displayed the leadership qualities expected of a team captain.
“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. You miss that. You miss that part of it,’’ he said. “It makes you appreciative of the times. That’s tough … Sometimes I think we take health and things like that for granted. It definitely makes you appreciative and also allowed me to look at the offense as a whole.”
That offense will look a whole lot different this season with a new quarterback and a new offensive line coach. Tom Brady is enjoying Florida, while Dante Scarnecchia is enjoying retirement. They’re no longer co-workers, but the bonds remain.
“It’s always tough, it’s a tough business, because there’s always turnover," said Andrews. "We’ve been pretty fortunate on the offensive side of the ball to have a lot of the same coaches, but it’s just part of the business. Scar has meant so much to me. He taught me so much and still means a lot to me. I’m thankful for — it’s kind of weird saying it now — but I guess the friendship that we have. Scar will always be around and he’s someone that that relationship extends to more than football. Just to get the chance to play with a coach like that is an unreal experience.
“Obviously, Tommy is who Tommy is. What a great experience it was to get to play with him. I’m appreciative of him and our friendship that we have. That was the longest quarterback I’ve ever played with in any of the stages of my football career. It’s always a special bond and we will remain friends for life.’’
There is still a sense a familiarity despite the changes. According to Andrews, assistants Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo have taken lead roles with the offensive linemen, and he has existing bonds with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.
“Jarrett is a great kid. I was still able, especially during the season at times, we would hang out a lot and stuff,’’ said Andrews. “Whatever quarterback is in that room, I try to build a bond with them, whether it’s Jimmy [Garoppolo], Brian, Danny Etling. Whoever is in there, you try to build a bond because it’s obviously one play away from anyone playing. That’s just the way it is.’’