FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the notable early-season storylines of the New England Patriots' 3-0 start has been the play of undrafted rookie center David Andrews. He's stepped in for injured starter Bryan Stork and veteran Ryan Wendell and played every offensive snap, the only Patriots offensive player to do so.
On Monday, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo touched on Andrews and the quick rapport he's developed with quarterback Tom Brady.
"I mean, him and Tom, it's like they've been together a long time," said DeGuglielmo, now in his second year as offensive line coach. "They have an understanding of one another, they work well, and it’s a credit to David being very intelligent and Tom also understanding, ‘Hey, I'm bringing this guy along until we get back some of these other guys.’"
Andrews isn't the only rookie making his mark on the line, as fourth-round draft picks Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason are also playing extensively at guard.
On Monday, DeGugliemo looked ahead to when Stork (on short-term injured reserve) and Wendell ultimately return and said of the rookies, "It'll be great to see what kind of influence they have once they get back in there because these [rookies] are getting better every week, and there's going to be some great competition when those guys get back in the mix."
Part of what has helped Andrews, Jackson and Mason rise up to the challenge has been their extensive work in the preseason.
“Those cats played in the range of -- in the preseason games and practices against our defense and against the Saints -- close to 650, 700 snaps," DeGuglielmo said. "If you think about it now, that's a half of a season of reps that together, playing next to the [Nate] Solders and the [Sebastian] Vollmers and those types of people -- [it's] invaluable.
"The circumstances had them playing a lot so they took advantage of it. And again, it wasn't always pretty and it’s still not pretty when you dissect the film. But there's getting the job done and then there's making it look pretty. I think we're more interested in getting the job done at this point. We're going to work towards making it look right and everything being right.”
DeGuglielmo added that, "The bottom line is we're making hay as an offensive line because of Bill [Belichick's] vision of the game plan, Josh [McDaniels and] how he develops the game plan [and] Tom, how he handles it and how he manages the pocket in his own special way. There are a lot of factors that go into them having some success that has nothing to do with them.
"The game plan is formulated in mind that we have young people or developing individuals and that's what keeps us alive. And Tom [Brady] knows that, he manages them very well, he’s a great leader. I think if he were a different type of personality that didn't encourage those guys … It's hard for rookies, especially with a figure like him, he could be pretty overpowering if he wanted to be, but he’s been very encouraging and I see a kind of comfort level with them."