Nothing in life and the NFL is guaranteed, something David Andrews found out first-hand last August: coming off the second Super Bowl win in his three-year career as the New England Patriots’ starting center, he was a lock to return in the same capacity for the 2019 campaign before blood clots were discovered in his lungs. The diagnosis forced him to undergo treatment and to spend the entire season on the Patriots’ injured reserve list.
Eight months after his medical scare, on the first day of the NFL draft in late April, Andrews took to social media to announce that he had been cleared to return to the field again and should be back in the lineup after a one-year absence. This week, finally, he made his first appearance in de facto a public forum since the announcement when he talked to the New England media on a conference call — and one of the themes was perspective.
“I think anytime you miss a season — and unfortunately that happens every year to guys through injuries — it makes you take a step back and miss and enjoy the grind a little bit,” Andrews said when reflecting on his time away. “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, and you miss that. You miss that part of it. It makes you appreciative of the times, and that’s tough.”
“You’re definitely appreciative you get to do what you want to do,” the 27-year-old continued. “Sometimes, I think we take health and things like that for granted, so it definitely makes you appreciative. It also kind of allowed me to look at the offense as a whole and pick up some new things, where I wasn’t really focused on a game plan each week. I kind of got to look at it from a big picture.”
“It’s such a grind and it’s such a rush from playing on Sunday’s, to getting the film corrected, and then moving forward to the next team, and you’ve got a short week or things like that,” Andrews added. “It’s just a jumping-around of a season. To be able to just take a step back and look at the game as a whole and kind of watch football from a different perspective there was definitely some good things about it, some fun things.”
While Andrews was unable to participate in any practice sessions after the Patriots’ third preseason game in August, and had to spend the entire regular season and playoffs on the sidelines, he was still involved with the team as a whole. Together with fullback James Develin, who missed the remainder of the season due to a neck injury suffered in Week 2, he continued to leave a mark through leadership and off-the-field work.
Entering the 2020 season, however, Andrews is ready to return — and his comeback could not have happened at a better time for a Patriots organization that had to watch both his replacement, Ted Karras, and starting quarterback Tom Brady leave in unrestricted free agency. Getting the team captain and veteran leader back into the fold should therefore create at least some stability on the offensive side of the ball.
As for Andrews himself, he appears to be eager to get back onto the field after not playing in a non-preseason game in 15 months and counting.
“As a competitor and a guy who wants to play football, it sucks not being out there,” he said. “I came here to play football, and not being out there, even if it’s just for a week or whatever it may be, it’s tough on an athlete. We want to compete, we want to be out there, and so when you can’t do that, it’s obviously frustrating and tough. So, it was great to finally get that. I just want to move forward now and look forward to 2020.”
“I’m just really looking forward to moving forward and getting back to being a football player again,” he added. “I’m really excited to get back out there whenever we can.”