The New England Patriots were lucky last season to escape any major injury on the offensive line. As the 2019 looms, they will likely be without arguably their most important lineman for the season.
Jeff Howe of the Athletic reported that David Andrews has been hospitalized with a blood clot in his lungs, putting his season in jeopardy.
Andrews, who was undrafted out of Georgia, has been the starting center for New England for the past four seasons and is even an offensive captain for the team. He has started 53 of the 56 games he’s played in during the course of his career.
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This will affect not just the offensive line as a whole but Tom Brady directly. Brady and Andrews have built quite the relationship since the center joined the team. But throughout his career, Brady has become accustomed to working with different centers.
This circumstance will likely make Ted Karras the starting center in Week 1 against Pittsburgh. New England is 4-1 in games Karras has started throughout his career.
Treatment and recovery for an issue such as this can often take as long as three months, according to Ian Rapoport on NFL Network. Andrews was released from the hospital on Monday night, per report from the Boston Globe.
Depth at Center
The Patriots have a couple other options at center to use in Andrews’ absence. Ted Karras is the front runner for the starting job and has played center before.
He was drafted in 2016 out of Illinois and has appeared in 45 career games. A third-generation NFL player, Karras last started at center in 2017 when Andrews was out for two games with an illness. The Patriots won both those games.
He was mainly a right guard in college but his interior versatility made his transition to center seamless.
Other options at the position include James Ferentz and rookie Tyler Gauthier.
Ferentz has experience and has won two Super Bowls, in 2015 with the Broncos and in 2018 with New England. He played in 13 games for Denver during their championship season and seven the following year. Since coming to New England he has appeared in just two games.
Through the preseason, Ferentz has struggled with his protection, allowing a sack against the Tennessee Titans. His roster status was in doubt but given his time in the New England system he could be placed on the team as an extra lineman.
The final option, Gauthier, is an undrafted out of Miami and hasn’t made too much of a splash in preseason. He finished college starting his final 25 games at center for the Miami Hurricanes and was an All-ACC honorable mention as a junior.
Though he hasn’t had many reps with the starting offense, he has good size for the position and has gone down a similar path as Andrews after going undrafted.
New England may decide to move Shaq Mason or Hjalte Froholdt to center as both have experience at the position from college. Mason has been a stalwart at right guard and likely wouldn’t shift over, but Froholdt is raw enough to transition into the position and might be a good enough option to be flexible with.