By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
"It wasn't easy," is how Patriots center David Andrews described spending 2019 on the sidelines after a pulmonary embolism last summer cost him his season. Andrews stayed around the team for the remainder of the year, but was placed on IR and limited to just watching and listening.
Now ready to make his comeback, the 28-year-old returns to the field refreshed and refined.
"Sometimes in the season it’s hard to find time. You’re meeting all day and maybe catching some film here and there, but I was really able to spend a lot of extra time watching film," Andrews told reporters last week. "I could look at it from a different perspective to some extent. I really just started to look at other guys and kind of refocus on my film study because I had so much time to do that stuff."
The Georgia product looked at his own film, but did some 'advanced scouting' as well.
"I wasn’t getting ready for the football game. I was really able to look at some certain things, whether it be pass rusher tendencies or line stunts. Just trying to pick up little things, re-engage in some film watching, almost like reset, and kind of look at it from a whole big picture."
It's rare for an NFL player, especially in an organization as detail-focused as the Patriots, to be able to have a 'big picture' mentality during the season. Andrews knew he had to make the most of a rare opportunity. "I was able to take some steps, some time back and utilize it," he said.
In just a few days back, Andrews' teammates are already noticing a difference.
"He looks great, working really hard as usual. Great addition to have him back," Patriots left guard Joe Thuney told reporters on Wednesday.
In a season where preparation time is limited and there will be a number of new faces in the offense, having Andrews back as one of the main pre-play communicators will be a huge boost to the Patriots offense.
"With everything going on...He’s just a great leader and knows the offense inside and out," Thuney said. "Getting everybody on the same page, seeing the game through the same set of eyes, it’s huge. He’s right at the center of the offensive line so it’s really important that we’re all working well together cohesively. He’s a big part of that."
The Patriots signed Andrews as a UDFA out of Georgia before the 2015 season. From 2015-2018, he played in 71 of a possible 75 games, with 68 starts. Despite missing 2019, he was elected a team captain for third straight year.