Injuries bring changes on Patriots offensive line going into game at Broncos

The Patriots were down multiple starting offensive linemen at Wednesday's practice.

New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) calls a play from the line of scrimmage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — David Andrews is a team captain, a starter at center, and someone with ties to the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl titles.

Given the state of New England’s offensive line, which in many ways resembles a season where the wear and tear continues to take its toll on a franchise that has no choice but to play out the string, Andrews still sees reasons to be positive heading into the Week 16 matchup at Denver. The last thing the nine-year veteran wants to hear is that the Patriots have nothing at stake.

“We’ve only got three more guaranteed opportunities with this football team. It’s a huge opportunity for not only yourself but the organization … everyone involved,” Andrews said on Wednesday. “Sometimes when you get in these positions, people will say you have nothing to lose. We have everything to lose because we’re playing this game. You never know when it’s going to get taken from you or when it’s going to end.”


A few individuals have an opportunity to make an impact alongside Andrews after the Patriots placed offensive lineman Cole Strange on injured reserve earlier in the week. The second-year pro was carted off the field with a knee injury that he suffered during the second quarter of Sunday’s home loss to Kansas City.

“Tough kid. I know he’s going to do everything he can to come back. If anyone can do it, he can,” Andrews said about the rehab path that awaits Strange.

Healthy offensive linemen are at a premium for the Patriots as they head down the stretch of the season. Offensive lineman Conor McDermott did not practice Wednesday. He sustained a head injury that forced him out against the Chiefs.

New England could welcome back offensive lineman Trent Brown to the practice field after he missed the Kansas City game. With Strange sidelined, New England will likely turn to rookie Atonio Mafi for the rest of the season at left guard. An opportunity is also open for second-year lineman Vederian Lowe to see his workload increase beginning with Sunday’s matchup against the Broncos. Lowe finished this past week’s game at left tackle after McDermott was ruled out.


“As a team, you want to fight and compete and get as many wins as you can. There are guys who are going to get different opportunities coming up here with Cole and Conor dealing with some stuff.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn when you get thrown into the fire when you have to read and react and do different things,” Andrews said before throwing it back to a time in Patriots history when an injury allowed for the launch of the career of one of the greatest winners in NFL history.

“Think about Tom Brady. What if Drew Bledsoe had never gotten hurt? You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity. You have to be ready to take advantage of it,” Andrews said. “The more snaps you play, the more the game slows down a bit and you’re not going a million miles an hour. As a rookie, there’s a lot piled on you throughout the year. As the years go on, you figure it out. Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie, you’re trying to improve each week.”