David Andrews has started 66 games in his NFL career. Tom Brady was his quarterback in all but four of them.
That will not be the case this season.
When Andrews returns to action after his lost 2019 campaign, he’ll be snapping to a different New England Patriots signal-caller — either 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham or veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer.
Stidham, who beat out Hoyer for the top backup spot behind Brady last summer, is the favorite to win that QB competition. Andrews has yet to play a game with the 23-year-old Auburn product but said he’s gotten to know him well over the last 12 months.
“I’m pretty fortunate,” Andrews said Tuesday in a video conference with reporters. “I’ve worked plenty with Brian Hoyer. I have a lot of experience with Brian. He’s been around for a while. And I went all last spring with Jarrett and six weeks of training camp — or whatever I made it — getting to work with him at times. …
“Jarrett’s a great kid. I was still able to — especially during the season, at times we’d hang out a lot. Whatever quarterback’s in that room, I try to build a bond with him, whether it’s been Jimmy (Garoppolo), Brian, Danny Etling. Whoever’s been in there, you try to build a bond, because it’s obviously one play away from anyone playing. That’s just the way it is.”
Stidham impressed in his first NFL preseason but has just three regular-season appearances on his record, all coming in garbage time. He threw a grand total of four passes as a rookie, the last of which resulted in a Jamal Adams pick-six.
Despite that lack of real-game experience, Andrews expects Stidham to be more comfortable as he enters Year 2.
“I look back on my rookie year to remember the growth I saw from my rookie season to my second year and how the game started to click a little bit and make sense a little bit more,” Andrews said. “That, for all those players, is just a natural thing coming from that first to second year. Your first year is such a whirlwind. It’s such a long year from going from bowl games to training to the combine, pro day, OTAs, minicamp — all that — training camp. For a year, it’s nonstop. So the growth from your first year to your second year is so huge.
“We bring in great players. Coach (Bill) Belichick brings in great football players, and we have a lot of great guys in this locker room that are committed to winning. That’s the set and the tradition from guys and how they handle situations.”
Andrews, who recently was cleared to play after missing all of last season with blood clots in his lungs, called the transition to the post-Brady era “a new challenge.” As a team captain, he’ll be an important locker-room voice as the Patriots confront that challenge.
“I think you don’t do anything out of the ordinary,” Andrews said. “I think leadership, sometimes you can see through it if there’s some BS in it. Be who you are. Do what got you here. Just do it better and do it more. It just is what it is. Being in the NFL, it’s part of this business.
“There doesn’t need to be a Superman anywhere. We just need to go out there and do our job collectively as a group, provide good leadership — even if (Brady) was here or wasn’t here. Whoever is here. That’s our job, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”