FOXBOROUGH — David Andrews was a surprise visitor at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday afternoon as the Patriots went through a shorts-and-shells practice.
The Patriots center was released from a local hospital Monday night after being treated for blood clots in his lungs, according to a league source. The ailment could force the two-time captain to miss all or a significant portion of the season.
Andrews, who turned 27 last month, was in shorts and T-shirt and briefly chatted with running back Brandon Bolden. Andrews watched his fellow offensive linemen go through stretching and jogging during the window when members of the media are allowed to observe the workout.
Andrews’s teammates were pleased to see him back mingling.
“It was great,’’ said Ted Karras, Andrews’s likely replacement. “Obviously, he’s a big part of the team. He’s a been a leader for us for a long time now. Just having him around is a big plus for our unit and our team . . . We’re the same age, but I’ve learned a lot from him.’’
Karras said he talked with Andrews, but declined to discuss his teammate’s health.
“You know, we’ve been friends now for four years,’’ said Karras. “I’m going to let him kind of speak for how he’s doing. But, I’m here for him.’’
Karras, who has started at center and guard during his Patriots tenure, said the biggest difference in playing the positions is making the line calls.
“But I’ve been doing it . . . I’ve been around here for a while,’’ he said, before casually adding, “you’ve got to snap the ball.’’
Reminded that his quarterback, Tom Brady, can be particular about how the ball is delivered, Karras chuckled.
“He is sometimes, yeah,’’ said Karras.
Right guard Shaq Mason had high praise for Karras.
“Ted’s a hard worker, comes in every day ready to work, eager to learn more each and every day,’’ he said. “He puts his head down and works.’’
Mason also is confident the offensive line won’t skip a beat.
“Communication-wise, I think we’re all on the same page,’’ he said. “That comes from repetition in practice. David, Ted, any other center, we all communicate the same just because of those reps.”
Aside from Karras, James Ferentz and rookie Tyler Gauthier also have played center during camp and are likely to get plenty of snaps in Thursday’s exhibition finale against the Giants.
NFL referee Ron Torbert met with the players and then with the media and showed a 10-minute video that explained rule changes and points of emphasis for the 2019 season.
The most notable rule change is offensive and defensive pass interference calls (and noncalls) are reviewable.
An interesting note, via Torbert, is that if a team challenges a pass interference whistle and the replay reveals both sides committed pass interference, referees can penalize both teams.
So far this preseason, coaches have challenged four pass interference noncalls against the Patriots (Matt Patricia, Mike Vrabel, and Ron Rivera twice) and all the calls have been upheld upon review.
Among other changes: the blindside-block rule has been expanded; on-field celebrations are allowed only for players in uniform; and players can now be ejected for football acts in addition to nonfootball acts (i.e. unsportsmanlike conduct).
RB back in action
Running back Damien Harris returned to practice after missing Sunday and Monday’s sessions. Harris suffered an undisclosed minor injury in Thursday night’s exhibition win over the Panthers . . . Top pick N’Keal Harry looked more comfortable as the receiver works his way back from leg injuries suffered in practice and the preseason game in Detroit . . . Tight end Benjamin Watson missed his third straight practice after he was sent into the concussion protocol following a flagrant and vicious late hit by Panthers safety Eric Reid last week. An NFL spokesman confirmed Reid’s hit was under review, though he hasn’t been penalized yet. Reid told reporters in Carolina he texted an apology to Watson . . . Defensive ends Derek Rivers, Shilique Calhoun, and Trent Harris, defensive back A.J. Howard, and tight end Lance Kendricks were not spotted. Offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste (nonfootball injury list) and receiver Cam Meredith (physically-unable-to-perform list) also were not in attendance . . . The Patriots released receiver Maurice Harris with an injury settlement, meaning he can sign with a team when he’s healthy. There’s also a chance he could wind up back in New England . . . Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was awarded the Ron Burton Community Service Award. He and his wife, Marissa, have championed the causes of adopted, foster, and disadvantaged youths . . . The Patriots will hold their final 90-man practice Wednesday (it’ll be a walkthrough) before Thursday night’s game against the Giants. The Patriots need to get to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Saturday.