Lawrence Guy hoping to find home in second year with Patriots

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New England Patriots defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (93) arrives for practice at training camp in Foxborough, Mass., in May. The Patriots bet a lot on defensive lineman Lawrence Guy when they signed him to a four-year, free agent contract last year, becoming the NFL nomad’s sixth NFL team. He proved worthy of investment, producing more tackles than any other New England interior lineman. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Lawrence Guy has tried to use every trial he’s faced in his life as an opportunity to learn something about himself.

It helped the Patriots defensive lineman trudge through learning disabilities as a child and in college.

Later, he overcame the emptiness he felt while helping his wife through a miscarriage during her fifth month of pregnancy.

But as he begins his second training camp in New England, the eighth-year defensive lineman is feeling more grounded and less like an NFL nomad.

He proved to be one of the few consistent pieces on the Patriots defense last season and expectations will be higher as one of the most-tenured players on the defensive line.

Guy is embracing it as his next challenge and says the lessons he’s learned off the football field have prepared him for whatever comes next for him on it.

“I’m still growing,” Guy said. “Every year you play you’re growing trying to be a better player. … I’m not looking at my years in the league as ‘Oh, I’ve made it.’ I’m looking at how I’m going to get better.”

Last season Guy highlighted the struggles he and his wife, Andrea, endured in 2016 by honoring the organization that helped him through the loss of their unborn child , Estelle, during the NFL’s My Cleats, My Cause Initiative.

The pain will never fully subside, Guy said, but they did reach a milestone this past June when Andrea gave birth to a daughter, Adriana Paola.

Her arrival not only gave Guy an emotional pickup, he said it has grounded him as a football player.

“When she came, the outlook on life became different,” Guy said. “Your perspective when you come on this field is different. You know you have someone else behind you. I’m playing for my last name, I’m playing for my teammates and I’m playing for my daughter.”

Adriana is already walking and has run into her father’s arms every day after practice.

“To have her here … she may not quite understand it, but you can see the eyes open up when she sees me,” Guy said. “That feeling is amazing.”

The Patriots signed Guy to a four-year, incentive-laden free agent deal prior to last season. He proved to be worthy of investment, producing 58 combined tackles during the 2017 season — more than any other New England interior lineman. The team showed its appreciation for his efforts in 2017 and following their Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia added a $500,000 bonus to his 2018 salary.

It was a gesture the team didn’t have to make.

Guy appeared in 54.91 percent of New England’s snaps in 2017, just short of the 55 percent that would have triggered the bonus.

He will have to make the roster to see that money, with no guaranteed salary left in his deal after the $4.9 million he made last season. But Guy seems to be a lock on a unit that needs continuity after struggling down the stretch of 2017.

Run stopping is an area that Guy excels in. The hope is that 6-foot-2, 305-pound Danny Shelton, an offseason trade acquisition from Cleveland, can supplement Guy’s efforts in 2018.

Shelton said recently that it’s been easy to develop a rapport with fellow linemen such as Guy, Malcolm Brown and defensive end Trey Flowers.

“We’re all kind of at that point in our career where we know of players and we respect each other’s game,” Shelton said. “It’s not hard to make friends when you know and you respect the guy’s game.”

The defense will have a new look to it with linebackers coach Brian Flores calling plays following former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s departure.

Guy said he’s ready to fill whatever role the Patriots ask of him.

“Right now, we’re just trying to stack days,” Guy said. “We’re not looking who’s this or who’s that. We’re trying to come together as a unit and move forward every single day. … Every day I step on that field I have to get better at something.”

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