David Andrews Illness Fallout: Who Can Replace Patriots Starting Center?

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One of the good guys on the New England Patriots’ roster, starting center David Andrews, reportedly could be out for the season with a scary medical situation.

Andrews has a blood clot in his lungs, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported Monday. Andrews has been one of the most dependable players on the Patriots’ roster since joining the team in 2015. After sharing the starting role with Bryan Stork in his rookie season, Andrews has missed just two games. Andrews was out for those two games with an illness when the Patriots were practicing in altitude before their game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City in 2017. He also was absent to start the Patriots’ 2019 training camp.

Andrews could be out at least three months to get his health in order, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

When Andrews missed time in 2017, offensive lineman Ted Karras filled in for him. Karras also started two games in 2018 for right guard Shaq Mason.

The Patriots’ top options to replace Andrews at center are Karras, rookie fourth-round pick Hjalte Froholdt, veteran James Ferentz and undrafted rookie Tyler Gauthier. Karras has played a ton of snaps at center this preseason and only let up two pressures, both quarterback hits. He’s been a solid fill-in throughout his three-year career, playing a variety of different roles.

Froholdt might have more upside as a fourth-round pick, but offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said Monday that the rookie has to start playing with more discipline. Froholdt has four holding penalties in three preseason games. He’s let up a sack and three hurries.

Ferentz has never started a game since coming into the NFL in 2014. He’s played center and guard this preseason and let up two sacks, two QB hits and two hurries. He’s looked more natural at center than at guard.

Gauthier is a 6-foot-5, 305-pound Miami product. He finished his college career with 29 straight starts. He hasn’t let up a pressure in 76 preseason snaps this summer.

Steady Teddy would be the smart choice to start the season at center. The center-quarterback connection is an important one, and the fact that Brady has taken snaps from Karras in the past is valuable. The Patriots know they can depend on Karras, and he has plenty of experience playing and practicing next to starting guards Mason and Joe Thuney.

If Andrews has to hit injured reserve, it would free up an additional spot on the roster for another offensive lineman. The Patriots could keep Cole Croston, who has experience at offensive tackle and guard. They also could elect to keep Gauthier, Ferentz or Dan Skipper, who has served as the Patriots’ swing tackle this summer.

We’re hoping for the best for Andrews, who deservedly was named a captain the past two seasons. If the Patriots place Andrews on injured reserve before their Aug. 31 cutdown date, he would be lost for the entire season. If Andrews starts the season on the active roster then is placed on IR, then he could return after Week 8.

Patriots center David Andrews
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