BOSTON (CBS) — It’s only Week 3, and the Patriots are already dealing with what could be a significant injury.
Center and captain David Andrews missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a hand injury. His wrap/cast concoction protecting his thumb during stretching and drills on Thursday did not bode particularly well for his potential availability on Sunday vs. the Raiders.
Unlike last year, when the Patriots had a handy backup in Ted Karras able to fill in for Andrews for the whole year, things aren’t quite so easy this year.
In fact, it’s possible that the Patriots turn to a player who’s never been on the field for an offensive down in the NFL to step in and block for Cam Newton.
That player is Hjalte Froholdt, a 24-year-old native of Denmark who was drafted in the fourth round by the Patriots in 2019. While predicting the future decisions of Bill Belichick, Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo is merely a guessing game, the option of sliding guard Joe Thuney over to center and having Froholdt fill in at guard seems to be a feasible option.
Froholdt has not taken an offensive snap through two games, but he’s been on the field for nine special teams snaps.
(His name is pronounced YELL-duh FROH-holdt, if you were wondering.)
In addition to Froholdt, the Patriots can also use some creativity in moving Jermaine Eluemunor inside from the tackle spot, or by elevating James Ferentz from the practice squad.
But if the decision is made to start Froholdt, it seems as though Belichick and the coaching staff have confidence that it can get done. Belichcik was asked about Froholdt on Friday morning, and he was certainly complimentary of Froholdt’s preparation and readiness for a moment like this.
“Way ahead of where he was last year on a number of levels,” Belichick continued. “Still a young player that has a lot of room to grow and works very hard at it. So he’s taken a step to — as you said — being close to playing and hopefully he’ll be able to compete for playing time here as he continues to improve.”
Froholdt suffered a shoulder injury in the Patriots’ final preseason game in 2019, landing him on IR and costing him his rookie season. Belichick said the offensive lineman has been impressive in his work to get back into shape and on the field.
“Well Hjalte’s had a good offseason. Had an opportunity to get a lot of reps last year in training camp but then that was really about it for him,” Belichick said. “He was rehabbed early and was really ready by January, February to get a good full offseason in in terms of training and so forth. Even though we weren’t able to do it here, he’s a hard-working kid who did a lot on his own. So he had a good offseason in terms of training and being healthy. He’s been able to be out on the field every day and work hard and continue to get better on a daily basis since we’ve had the opportunity to begin practice.”