Even before the New England Patriots kicked off their 2019 season, they suffered a major loss: David Andrews, who had served as the team’s center ever since earning a full-time starting position in 2016, was hospitalized in late August and later diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. As a result of the diagnosis, the Patriots were forced to shut their team captain down for the entire season and place him on injured reserve.
Seven months removed from the initial diagnosis, Andrews spoke with Rusty Mansell of 247 Sports about it and how he experienced going from a starting role on a Super Bowl-winning team to being hospitalized just half a year later.
“I had been dealing with some chest pains and [had] troubling breathing, started coughing blood the first day we reported to training camp actually,” said the 27-year-old about experiencing first symptoms last summer. “All of this was partly my fault, just being dumb and pushing through it. I thought I was sick and I really did not feel like myself. It was not like I was having a bad camp. I just was not having a consistent camp.”
Andrews entered the Patriots’ 2019 training camp as a lock to start along the Patriots’ offensive line: one of the best centers in all of football and a two-time world champion, the former undrafted free agent had earned the trust of the team’s coaching staff and quarterback Tom Brady. However, training camp and New England’s subsequent preseason proved to be a struggle for Andrews as he recently acknowledged.
Eventually, he went to see a doctor the day after the Patriots’ third game of the preseason — Andrews was on the field for 28 snaps that day, but not feeling well during or after the contest: “Specialist comes out and says I have blood clots, I had no idea what that meant. I told the doctor I needed to get back home to let my dogs out, and from that point on, I knew it was serious. They would not let me leave and I spent five nights there.”
“My first call was to my dog walker, actually,” he said. “Then I had to call my wife and try to explain all of this. She was out of town. I actually called my former [Georgia] teammate Clint Boiling next. He was actually dealing with these this offseason, so I called him immediately because I knew he had dealt with that. He was great and introduced me to a doctor as well. Clint was just great to me. I really had no idea how dangerous it was.”
Despite Andrews being forced to spend all of 2019 on the sidelines, he remained an active member of the organization. Alongside veteran fullback James Develin, who had to be placed on season-ending injured reserve just two weeks later, he embraced his leadership role despite being unable to actually participate in any of the Patriots’ games. Still, this involvement helped Andrews make the transition from starter to injury-related absentee.
“The Patriots were so good to me,” he said. “I was limited on what I could do but I really focused on rebuilding my body and trying to turn a negative into a positive. I got to be a part of the team, got to watch film with the guys. I got to lead a pass rushing meeting each week. I was still a captain and got to attend those meetings. I got to spend more time with my wife. It has been a different year. I am ready to get back.”
In which capacity Andrews returns remains to be seen, but the Patriots would certainly benefit by having him in the lineup again. After all, his replacement — Ted Karras — left the organization in free agency to sign a one-year pact with the Miami Dolphins. While New England does have depth along the interior offensive line, Andrews’ quality and leadership will make him an essential part of the team’s new-look offense.