FOXBORO — New England Patriots center David Andrews may see the gridiron again in 2022, after all.
The Patriots six-time team captain suffered what was originally reported as a “serious” thigh injury during the Pats’ 10-3 victory over the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Andrews underwent tests on Monday to determine its severity.
In light of the multiple accounts on the subject, a source close to Patriots Country has confirmed that Andrews’ potential return “cannot be ruled out.” However, the source indicated that it is “still a bit too early” to determine his status.
While the Patriots did not practice on Monday, the team estimated that Andrews would not have participated in a session to prepare for their Thanksgiving night matchup with the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The injury is the latest physical setback for the 30-year-old. After missing the past two games (including the Pats Week 8 win over the Jets) while recovering from a concussion, Andrews made his anticipated return for the Patriots on Sunday. However, his impact on the game would be short-lived.
As running back Rhamondre Stevenson attempted to earn the first down 2nd-and-8 from the Jets 28-yard line, Andrews (in his first game since suffering a concussion in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears) incurred a thigh injury while making a block. He immediately went to the ground in pain, and was soon helped to the sidelined by the training staff.
Shortly thereafter, Andrews was assisted by team personnel to the locker room, unable to put weight on his leg. He did not return to the game.
If Andrews does miss significant time, it does not bode well for the Pats’ playoff aspirations. The effectiveness of both their running game and passing game dropped dramatically during his previous two-game absence.
According to Patriots.com, the team’s offensive efficiency plummeted from -0.03 expected points added (EPA) per play to -0.25 EPA per play. In the passing game, quarterback Mac Jones was pressured on 39.3% of his drop-backs without the Pats starting center, as opposed to only 28.2% with him in the lineup. Andrews’ absence also had a negative impact on the running game. The Pats averaged 4.7 yards per rush with Andrews, yet dropped to an average of 3.6 without him in Weeks 8 and 9.
On Sunday, the Jets aggressive defensive front took full advantage of the situation, making life even more difficult for Jones and the Patriots than they had in Week 8.
Collectively, New York kept the Pats quarterback under duress for nearly the entire afternoon, compiling six sacks, eight tackles-for-loss and eight quarterback hits.
While the decrease in New England’s statistical output without Andrews is clearly evident, the more significant loss may be from his positional leadership. Rookie left guard Cole Strange struggled without the Pats captain alongside him in the interior. His replacement, James Ferentz, has had his troubles in trying to replicate Andrews’ blocking prowess. Though Ferentz would be the logical choice to assume the starting position in Andrews’ stead, the team did promote rookie center (and former practice-squadder) Kody Russey to the 53-man roster on Saturday.
New England also carries guards Bill Murray and Hayden Howerton, as well as converted tight end (turned tackle) Hunter Thedford available for elevation via their practice squad.
Kickoff between the Patriots and Vikings is set for Thursday night at 8:20 p.m. ET.
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