Falcons OL Josh Andrews wants one of the open spots

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Veteran offensive lineman Josh Andrews wants to earn a starting spot for the Falcons.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons center/guard Josh Andrews has been working since 2014 to stick with an NFL team.

He’s honed his craft behind Eagles linemen Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and the legendary nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters. He also played behind Colts linemen Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith and three-time All-Pro Quenton Nelson.

When Andrews looks at the Falcons’ offensive line situation, he sees an opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Andrews said Wednesday on a virtual call. “It’s my dream to start in this league. I feel like I can do that. I’m a veteran now, it feels strange to say, but I feel like I can come in hitting the ground running and take that spot. That’s my goal, to come in and compete, make the team better. I feel like I can do that.”

The Falcons are looking to replace starting center Alex Mack and left guard James Carpenter. Mack signed with San Francisco in free agency, and Carpenter was released.

Matt Hennessy, who was a center at Temple, played some center and left guard last season, and Matt Gono made four starts, one at left guard.

“I talked to coach (Arthur) Smith about it, and he was like, the best players are going to play,” Andrews said. “I like that approach because with a new start, you don’t know what you are going to get. What scheme are you going to get?”

Andrews is eager for the offseason program to start, which was postponed. The Falcons were set to start their offseason program Tuesday.

“When camp comes around, you keep on developing and whoever is hitting the ground running that’s who you roll with,” Andrews said. “Just talking to him, I feel like I know what it’s going to take.”

Andrews, who played at Oregon State, signed a one-year, $1.27 million deal with guaranteed money with the Falcons.

Andrews, 29, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 298 pounds. He played last season with the Jets and played a career-high 311 offensive snaps (31%). He played 61 snaps (6%) with the Colts in 2019 and 36 snaps (3%) with them in 2018.

He played 58 special-teams snaps (12%) with the Eagles in 2015 and 12 special-team snaps (3%) in 2016. He suffered a broken hand in 2017 and was on the practice squad during the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl LII title.

Andrews has played in 40 NFL games and made four starts. The 2017 season was a setback for him.

“I broke my hand,” Andrews said. “First day in pads I broke my hand, so that was tough. I felt like that was my year to go in and play. It was tough because I got bounced to the practice squad to let my hand heal.”

The Eagles took off that season and eliminated the favorite Falcons, the defending NFC champions, in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“Just going on that run all the way to the Super Bowl, practice squad or not, you were on that squad, you’re grinding with those guys,” Andrews said. “You’re in the mix, and if somebody gets hurt, you can be thrown in the game just like that. I feel like I took that approach. It was an incredible year that we had. (I have) memories that I’ll never forget with those guys.”

Backing up the Eagles’ and Colts’ respectable lines, Andrews picked up some tips.

“All of those guys were really good athletes,” Andrews said. “I know just from being behind those guys, I gained a lot of experience. A lot of knowledge about the game. Now, that it’s my turn to play even more, I have that experience to go forward.”

Andrews credited his inner perseverance with helping him to try to make it in the NFL.

“I feel like a lot of guys that I know don’t really get the opportunity, so they pack it up and quit and move on with the rest of their lives,” Andrews said. “But I’ve been doing this for so long. I love this game, (and) I want my opportunity.

“I feel like I won’t stop until I get my opportunity to play. Even though I’m about to be 30 years old, I feel like I still have a lot of miles on me left.”

Andrews, who started his college career as a center, doesn’t have a preference whether he plays center or guard with the Falcons.

“Either one really, wherever they need me to play, I can play,” Andrews said. “I feel that I have enough experience at both. ... If you put me in the game, I can go out there and produce.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the top 10 picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 4.0:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU)

3. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

6. Miami Dolphins: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

8. Carolina Panthers: Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain (CB, Alabama)

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