Ernie Adams had one title with the Patriots, but as anyone who has followed the team can attest, the man who center David Andrews called a “mysterious, mythical creature” has played multiple roles within the organization.
Officially the “football research director” before his retirement this week, Adams has had his hand in all phases of football operations, including coaching, film analysis, and coordination. He also had a direct line to the sideline during games, advising on whether challenge flags should be thrown.
On Tuesday, Andrews revealed another of Adams’s roles: Good cop.
Andrews recalled a story from early in his Patriots career when he botched a play.
“I remember I fumbled a snap in spring or training camp, or something early,” he said. “We were running a guard pull play. Bill [Belichick] obviously didn’t like that very much, and I ended up running a lap.”
That wasn’t the end of it, however.
“Then Ernie after practice at some point talked to me and just talked about how that’s one of the harder snaps,” said Andrews, “because the quarterback’s pulling away in the opposite direction for the handoff, you’re going flat down the line to try to cut somebody off in a penetrating position.
“So, he just talked to me about that, and ever since then, I was kind of like, ‘Wow. All right.’ ”
Andrews knew from then on that he could pick Adams’s brain about pretty much everything, and he often tapped into a most valued and trusted resource.
“I always made an effort to talk to Ernie when he was in the building, when I passed him in the building, about rules, whatever it may be, he’s like an encyclopedia,” Andrews said. “Ernie will definitely be missed around the building, that’s for sure.”
Andrews, a four-time captain, met with the media for the first time since signing a four-year, $19 million deal to stay in New England. It looked like Andrews’s tenure might be over, especially when the Patriots inked Ted Karras to a free agent contract, but Andrews, 28, said the door was always open for a return.
“I think we were just trying to figure out what was best for us and our family,” said Andrews, who is expecting a baby boy soon with his wife, Mackenzie. “Knew we wanted to be back here if it all made sense. I kind of made that clear throughout the process, I guess.
“Super excited to be back. Super excited to see all the new faces we added.”
Andrews, who grew up in Georgia and played for the Bulldogs before being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015, is firmly entrenched in New England, even joking that his son may end up being a hockey player.
“This is home,” he said. “This is a special place to me. The Kraft family is very special to me. The community, the team, the coaches. I enjoy playing here and I want to play here.”
As for the addition — or re-addition — of Karras, Andrews is all for it because “I know Ted can help this football team.”
Karras played with the Patriots before signing with the Dolphins, for whom he started all 16 games at center last season. Karras served as Andrews’s backup in New England and also played guard, the spot he played in college.
“Ted and I have worked together for — what? — four years before that? Teddy is a great teammate,” said Andrews. “He’s always been just a great teammate and become a good friend of mine over those four or five years. Just excited to get a chance to work with him. You get a friend back.”
Andrews also offered some big thoughts on another returning offensive lineman, Trent Brown. All 6 feet 8 inches and 380 pounds of him.
“First off, you forget how big Trent is,” said Andrews, who has won a Super Bowl with Brown. “I kind of got used to it in 2018. It was just Trent. And then I saw him the other day. I just couldn’t believe [my eyes]. I remember walking in the training room, he was getting some treatment before we worked out, and I just could not believe how big that human is.”
The Patriots still haven’t signed any undrafted free agents. With 83 players on the roster, they may be waiting for clarification on what the training camp rules/COVID-19 protocols will look like. Last year, the league allowed the normal 90 players if clubs wanted to have split practices. The Patriots chose to stick with 80 players, so they all could practice together … For the record, Patrick Chung, who announced his retirement last month, is still on the roster. Fullback Jakob Johnson, who entered the league via the International Pathway Program, was granted a roster exemption and won’t count against the final training camp number, whether it’s 80 or 90.