Patriots

Andrews had to disobey babysitter to watch Brady’s first Super Bowl

Andrews had to disobey babysitter to watch Brady’s first Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS -- Part of Tom Brady's job at this stage in his career is to connect with players who are often 15 years younger than he is. Or more. 

He's been open in discussing how that hasn't always been easy. His off-the-field life is vastly different than that of many of his teammates. His tastes in music and movies may stray from theirs, as well. But Brady has worked at it, and he's developed some strong relationships with teammates who were small children when Brady won his first Super Bowl back in February of 2002.

Perhaps the best illustration of Brady's ever-evolving interpersonal relationships with younger Patriots in the locker room is the one he has with his center David Andrews. The pair, due in large part to their proximity on the field, have basked together in some of the best wins in Patriots history. Andrews was one of the first to celebrate with Brady after James White scored the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LI. Andrews was also the one jogging off the field with Brady in Pittsburgh earlier this season as Brady shouted at fans, "How 'bout that!"

Andrews explained on Tuesday that he'd spent about a week in the Patriots facilities his rookie year before Brady went out of his way to make him feel at home. For an undrafted rookie, and the backup to Bryan Stork at the time, it was a memorable introduction.  

"[Rookies] were kind of working out on our own for a week or something, I can't really remember, but I remember when the veterans started to roll back in," Andrews said. "He's walking in the hallway. I came out. Walked out of the cafeteria, and there he was. 

"He was just like, 'Hey, David. 'I'm Tom Brady.' This guy knows an undrafted rookie's name? That was a huge impression and something I'll always remember."

Andrews had watched Brady from afar for years. He was nine years old when Brady took the field at the Superdome to take on the Rams in Brady's first Super Bowl. 

"I remember the Titans-Rams game, and then I think it was the next year, Rams-Brady," Andrews said. "I think it was one of the first Super Bowls I really remember as a kid growing up. Just kinda seeing that like, 'Oh, who's this Tom Brady guy?' It just kind of snowballed from there. He became who he is now. 

"I think I had a babysitter that first Super Bowl he was in. I think [my parents] were at a party that I couldn't go to. That year the babysitter was like, 'You're going to bed.' I was like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna watch this game.' "

Sixteen years later, the 40-year-old quarterback is receiving snaps from Andrews for a chance to win his sixth Super Bowl -- his second with the 25-year-old fellow team captain who only vaguely remembers Brady's first.

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NFL owners words not consistent with their actions with new anthem policy

NFL owners words not consistent with their actions with new anthem policy

Chris Gasper and Michael Holley talk about the inconsistent messaging from NFL owners to their teams' players after they unanimously voted to change the league's policy regarding the national anthem. Watch the video above. 

Rivers feeling good, could help provide Patriots an answer at left end

Rivers feeling good, could help provide Patriots an answer at left end

FOXBORO -- Of all the observations made at Tuesday's OTA practice, one that stood out as sort of an under-the-radar takeaway was that the defensive end position for the Patriots looked nothing like it did back in early February.

Seeing a good deal of the workload on the edges were two players who didn't play a snap for the Patriots last season: Derek Rivers and Adrian Clayborn.

From this, we can deduce a couple of things.

First, a few of the team's most experienced edge defenders weren't available. Trey Flowers' absence from Tuesday's work is worth monitoring as we progress through the spring and move toward training camp. Arguably the team's top defensive lineman, Flowers is headed into the final year of his rookie contract. Dont'a Hightower, who's coming back from a season-ending pec injury and has on-the-line/off-the-line flexibility, was also missing Tuesday.

Second, the participation level from both Rivers and Clayborn would serve as an indication that both are feeling healthy enough to take on a healthy amount of work at this point in the year. Clayborn reportedly tweaked his quad in workouts earlier in the offseason program, but he appeared to be moving fine. Rivers, meanwhile, is back for his second pro season after missing all of last year following an ACL tear suffered in joint training camp practices with the Texans.

Rivers availability is particularly interesting, if unsurprising, since he could be a stabilizing factor for the Patriots' front in 2018. A third-round pick last year out of Youngstown State, Rivers was used as an end, as a stand-up player on the edge, as a pass-rusher and as a coverage player in camp before getting hurt.

Though he missed all of last season, he was able to maintain a positive approach in the Patriots locker room, attending meetings and working diligently on his upper-body strength while his leg healed.

"Nobody ever wants to have an injury, but praise God. It’s all in his plan," Rivers said Tuesday. "My faith helped me get through it. It was a good rehab process. I was able to learn the defense, and I wasn’t away from the building, so I could do everything but be out here on the field. So it was a blessing. It actually made me a better player."

Rivers played on the left side - opposite Clayborn, a right end - in Tuesday's work. That's a position the Patriots had some trouble filling all of last season following Rob Ninkovich's retirement. It requires good athleticism, an ability to set an edge, an ability to rush...but also an ability to track backs out of the backfield.

"I’d say it’s different playing on the left than playing on the right from a responsibilities standpoint," Bill Belichick said last summer. "There’s certainly some similarities, but it’s different. Some guys can play both. Some guys, I would say, are better suited at one or the other. Sometimes that’s a comfort thing. Sometimes it’s really a scheme thing and what we ask them to do. They’re the same, but they’re different more so than say right and left corner or right and left defensive tackle or that type of thing. It’s defensive scheme. It’s a little bit different...

"I think it really becomes more of a coverage discussion – how much and what type of coverage responsibilities would you put them in? You know, Chandler Jones versus Ninkovich or Trey Flowers versus Ninkovich. There’s some differences in their coverage responsibilities. Especially most teams are, for us, defensively left-handed formation teams. Not that they couldn’t do it the other way, but more times than not, there’s a high percentage of situations that come up on the left side that are different from the right side, especially with a right-handed quarterback, which most of them are.

"I mean, look, they both have to know them, they both have to do them, but I’d say there’s definitely more – it’s kind of like left tackle and right tackle. You don’t really see the same player at right tackle as left tackle. Some guys can do both, but there are quite a few guys that are better at one or the other, and that’s usually where they end up."

The Patriots used Hightower off the left side early in the season but eventually moved him back to the middle in what looked like an effort to improve the unit's overall communication. Cassius Marsh got a crack at the spot at times. Kyle Van Noy could be seen there. Eric Lee saw work on the left. It was a revolving door. 

The rotation was heavy at both edge spots, really. Deatrich Wise saw extensive work as a rookie. Harvey Langi looked like he might earn regular snaps before a car wreck ended his season. Trevor Reilly, Geneo Grissom, Marquis Flowers and James Harris all appeared on the edge as the Patriots hoped to find answers. 

In the athletic Rivers, they could have a player who is big enough (6-foot-5, 250) to handle work in the running game on the left edge and athletic enough to both rush (his specialty in college) and cover. It's just a matter of Rivers showing the team he can do it. 

"Obviously, coming in here, your rookie year is almost like your freshman year in college," Rivers said. "So now, it’s just listening to the coaches, staying in the playbook and just getting ready to roll for each practice and just try to get better each and every day.”

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