The New England Patriots have a big competition on the interior of the offensive line and every single position is up in the air. While the battle at guard features both new and old faces, the center position will likely go to a player that started for the team last season.
David Andrews started the first ten games of the season before Bryan Stork won back the starting role. Stork suffered an ankle injury that put Andrews back in the lineup for week 15, but Stork held the position throughout the playoffs. Andrews completely understood the coaching decision and kept preparing for another opportunity.
“That was just what was best for the team right then,” Andrews said, via Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald. “I just tried to come out every day and prepare like I was starting. That’s what I try to do every time. It doesn’t matter where I’m at, I just go out there and prepare every day because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Stork’s rookie year was limited as the injuries he suffered in offseason prevented him from joining the starting line-up. He then missed weeks 6 and 7 with a concussion, was forced of the AFC Divisional Round game and had to sit out the AFC Championship game with a knee injury. Stork started the 2015 season on the short-term injured reserve with a neck and head injury, missed week 15 with an ankle injury, and then left the AFC Divisional Round game against the Chiefs in the second quarter with another ankle injury.
“Durability is more important than ability in this league,” head coach Bill Belichick said last season. Stork has not been durable.
Stork was pulled from practice on Saturday with another apparent injury and Andrews is ready to step into the role. Andrews evaluated all of his weaknesses during his rookie year and worked on fixing them.
“It appears that Andrews has shed a little baby fat and gotten leaner and stronger in the upper body,” Kurkjian writes.
“Yeah, I was just trying to get better this offseason and take from my weaknesses from last season,” Andrews agreed. “To me, that was something I wanted to work on, just get bigger and stronger.”
Andrews continues to be available, and he has gotten bigger and stronger. His arms are noticeably larger, while his core has grown more broad. While we may never find out if he’s surpassed the 300-pound mark, he certainly looks like he’s closer than ever before.
Stork held the size advantage over Andrews and that led the coaching staff to ultimately make the switch. If Andrews is able to compete with Stork on a physical level, the fact that Andrews has been more durable to this point should tip the competition in his favor.
Andrews is going to continue to make the most of his opportunities with Stork on the sideline and whether or not he wins the competition, he will keep preparing as if he were the starter.