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Socci’s View: Even David Andrews, a constant amidst change, is doing things differently for the Patriots

As a constant amidst change, David Andrews finds himself in a strange, new world at One Patriot Place.  The former teammate he looked up to in the locker room and battled on the practice field, Jerod Mayo, is his head coach. The kid quarterback who relied on his guidance years ago, Jacoby Brissett, is teaching him about the offense. And 10 years into his career as a New England Patriot, the place he calls “home” feels like “a new organization.” "It’s still kind of funny to me, having played with my head coach," Andrews said on Thursday afternoon. "It's kind of weird, you know? He was trying to take my head off on inside run drills my rookie year." Back then, in 2015, Mayo led the defense as an eighth-year linebacker, while Andrews was an undrafted center, considered undersized while overachieving on the scout team. Now, as Mayo works through his first spring as Bill Belichick’s head-coaching successor, Andrews is the Pats’ most experienced player and leader.  A seven-time co-captain, he’s appeared in 120 career regular-season games, including 117 starts. But in many ways, Andrews, at 31, is starting over.  He’s getting to know a new offensive staff, including line coach Scott Peters and assistant Robert Kugler, and trying to learn a new system. The changes are challenging, and exciting. “I love football and love the schematics of it, and so getting to see kind of another system and another side has been really fun for me,” Andrews told a small group of reporters at Gillette Stadium. “I’ve got nine years, call it, in one system, offensively, for the most part, so getting to see that new side of it has been really fun: different schemes (and) how they do things. I think it’s really interesting. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with Scott. He’s a very, very skilled technician, so I’m trying to break old habits, form new ones, do different things…It kind of lights a fire under you.” Eight of Andrews' first nine years were in offenses coordinated by Josh McDaniels or Bill O’Brien, who asked quarterbacks to communicate adjustments at the line based on their pre-snap view of the defense. Under new coordinator Alex Van Pelt, the center will take on more of that responsibility. “It’s definitely center-driven to some extent,” Andrews says. “I enjoy that. I’m very confident in what I know. For me, it’s learning the language, right? And speaking the (same) language as everybody else.” Sometimes, though, Andrews mixes his phrasing, confusing old terminology with the vocabulary of the new offense. Luckily, Brissett is around to help translate. “Jacoby knows sometimes what I’m thinking or how I’m thinking (about) things, and can help translate it to what we’re doing now, which has been so helpful because he’s been in both systems,” Andrews said. “He’s been a huge kind of sounding board for me.” Their relationship has come full circle.  In 2016, Brissett was in his first month as a pro when he was suddenly needed to quarterback the Patriots through most of Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension after Jimmy Garoppolo injured his right shoulder. With Andrews’ help, he did, relieving in a win before finishing 1-1 as a starter.  A year later, Brissett was traded to Indianapolis, beginning a journeyman’s career trek through Miami, Cleveland and Washington before re-signing with New England in March. His return from whence he started reunites Brissett with Van Pelt, who coached him as a Brown in 2022.  “We’ve always stayed in contact,” Andrews says. “But getting to have him back has been super fun for me, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with him again.” Andrews looks and sounds like he feels that way about everything he’s experiencing in this novel offseason for the Patriots. Months after speaking often and emotionally about Belichick’s importance to his career and openly considering retirement, Andrews sat down to Thursday’s press conference with a trimmed beard and beaming smile beneath his Field & Stream camouflage hat.  The cap is marketed as the “Roosevelt Hat,” named for Teddy Roosevelt, who first wrote in the magazine in 1899, more than a decade before he spoke about “The Man in the Arena.” Soon enough, Andrews will re-enter the arena, his facial hair sure to be more unruly and, with apologies to TR, his “face marred by dust and sweat and blood.”  Andrews isn’t ready yet to join us “cold and timid souls” on the sideline; although he admits to needing extra time as a soon-to-be 32-year old to get warmed up. “I used to make fun of Matthew Slater for things he did. I’d be like, ‘Slate, you don’t need to work out for three hours,’” he said. “You start to realize that, okay, well, of the three-hour workout, about an hour of it is trying to make sure your body is right.” Reality hit hard recently while visiting his wife Mackenzie’s hometown of Cedartown, Ga. “I spent some time working out at my wife’s high school down in Georgia,” Andrews smiles, “and some of the kids were chirping at me for some of the things I was doing because I (was) trying to get warmed up.”  It’s easy to forget how long it’s been since David and Mackenzie came north to make their home in Massachusetts, where today he’s one of the few year-round residents among active Patriots players. Andrews made his first career start the night the Patriots unveiled their fourth Super Bowl championship banner before hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10, 2015. He’s since started two more Super Bowl wins; missed an entire season due to blood clotting; snapped to Tom Brady and six other starting quarterbacks; and a year after undergoing shoulder surgery, played every offensive snap of 2023. “We’ve got a great strength staff and medical staff that I get to work with,” he says. “I don’t take a lot of time off. Why get out of shape to get back into shape?  “But how do you do that in a smart way? Because you can’t consistently blow it out every day. So that process of that is something I’ve enjoyed learning.”  As he proceeds toward his next season, reevaluating workouts and nutrition, Andrews has earned as much respect as any Patriot inside the team’s facility, at least; if not always outside of it. “My UPS man chirped me the other day when he opened the door. He said (he) thought I’d be a lot bigger,” Andrews shared to laughter among reporters. “He kind of took a shot at me. I was just kind of like, ‘Yeah, thanks.’ “For me, that’s always been part of the process. I’ve always been a little bit undersized and just had to try to find some type of edge or competitive way to do it.” He’s still trying; just, like everyone else at One Patriot Place, doing it differentially. Bob Socci has called play-by-play for the Patriots Radio Network on 98.5 The Sports Hub since 2013. Follow him on X @BobSocci.

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