Patriots ’20 Questions: Is there too much trust in David Andrews?

Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable
July 13, 2020 - 1:53 pm
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The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks WEEI.com will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: Are we putting too much trust in David Andrews’ return?

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Hannable: As of now, yes.

Andrews himself said he's medically cleared and ready to return after missing all of last season due to blood clots in his lungs, but this is not a typical football injury. While Andrews has done everything he possibly can to come back stronger than ever this season, there isn't exactly a book to follow on a player returning from something like it. It isn't like a torn ACL where there are checkpoints along the way.

Given the uncertainty, the Patriots would have been wise to bring in a veteran backup to play behind Andrews, but the team has yet to do so. As it stands now, Joe Thuney is the backup center unless seventh-round pick Dustin Woodard makes the team. And it isn't just at center where there aren't any veteran backups -- the entire offensive line doesn't have much besides second-year players Yodny Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt, who both missed all of last season due to injuries.

While all indications are Andrews should be good to go for the season, given the severity of what happened last year nothing is 100 percent and the Patriots do not have much of a fallback option in place.

Hart: Yes. Certainly Andrews has declared pretty strongly that he’s cleared to return from blood clots in his lungs that cost him all of last season. That’s great news, but this isn’t exactly a common football injury with a proven recovery path. This is a real-life health issue. Hopefully he’s fine. But the fact is that the Patriots don’t have a true backup for Andrews, the offensive line captain and center whose value was magnified by his absence last season, is at least mildly concerning.

Really the backups at center right now might be Joe Thuney, the team’s entrenched franchise left guard, and maybe Hjalte Froholdt, the mid-round pick who missed his rookie season. Mix in the loss of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and there is a lot riding on Andrews’ returning to the lineup consistently.

The Patriots need Andrews to play well while bringing communication and leadership to the line in 2020. That’s a lot to expect from a guy who dealt with a relatively unique health issues less than 12 months ago. Maybe it will work out. If it doesn’t, it would be a huge blow to the line and the offense as a whole with no real palatable backup plan at this point.

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