FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- David Andrews won't be suiting up when the Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Week 1 regular season opener. The team's starting center won't suit up in the following weeks or in the following months, either.
On Monday night, news broke that Andrews' season was in jeopardy due to blood clots in his lungs. The 27-year-old was hospitalized sometime after last week's preseason game against Carolina. He was out of the hospital by Monday and present at Patriots practice on Tuesday as a spectator.
Andrews will likely be around Gillette Stadium this season. He's allowed to exercise and lift weights, but when it comes to playing the game of football, he's now in a wait-and-see mode. Dr. Ben Wedro, a physician in Wisconsin, says typical treatment for a pulmonary embolism lasts for three to six months, depending on the cause.
"That's the guideline and you're done, presuming nothing else bad happens," Wedro said. "Then he's done his treatment and can go on with his life. That means in that three-to-six month timeline, he's not going to practice football. You don't want to get hit and bleed in the muscle or hit in the head and bleed. Minor hits will cause that, but he can be in the weight room and he can do other types of aerobic training. He can keep himself in shape, but he shouldn't be hitting somebody and somebody should not be hitting him."
A pulmonary embolism is defined as a blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries by a blood clot that forms elsewhere and travels to the lungs. Although this isn't a typical medical ailment you see in athletes, there are two cases with different results: 2017 Patriots third rounder Antonio Garcia and former NBA All-Star Chris Bosh.
Garcia missed his entire 2017 rookie season after doctors found out he had blood clots in his lungs. The offensive tackle stayed around Foxborough that year, but he was released 13 months after being drafted. Garcia told The Athletic he lost 25 pounds that season. He's currently in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts.
Bosh is a different story. During the 2014 NBA season, doctors found blood clots in his leg. In 2015, doctors found more blood clots in his lungs and eventually Bosh's career ended due to the condition. There are other healthy risks associated with pulmonary embolisms. In rare cases, this condition can cause sudden death.
When it comes to Andrews playing again, it depends on multiple factors. One of the biggest is if the clot is provoked (the reason for it is known) or unprovoked.
"The difference is this, if you've got a provoked clot, the treatment is 3-6 months of blood thinning or anticoagulation and then if everyone agrees that it's provoked, then you're done and you go on with your life and you're good," Wedro said. "If it's an unprovoked clot, the recommendation is you get life-long therapy... for a young healthy guy that means football is done."
The Patriots will have to decide quickly what will happen with Andrews. If they think he could return in three months, they could put him on the 53-man roster and then the injured reserve with an eventual designation to return. If they believe he won't return this season, they would put him on the injured reserve immediately and Andrews won't play until 2020 at the earliest.
On the field, the Patriots will move on without their two-time captain immediately. The next man up is Ted Karras, who's in his fourth season with the Pats. On Tuesday, the Patriots said they were confident with whoever plays center. It's also clear that this situation is about more than just football.
"Yeah, I talked to Dave. We've been friends now for four years," said Karras. "I'm going to let him speak for how he's doing. I'm here for him and I'll always be a friend... Obviously, he's a big part of the team. He's been a leader for us for a long time now. Just having him around is a big plus for our unit and our team."
"He's meant a lot to the unit. He brings passion, energy and he's a great player as well. It adds a lot to the table," added left guard Shaq Mason. "Health is the most important... I wish him the best and a speedy recovery."