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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 Durham Smythe Jersey , 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 Latavius Murray Jersey , 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 Davon House Jersey , 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.”
Having home ice is supposed to be an advantage in the NHL. So far in the 2018 playoffs, the only guarantee to playing at home is a monochrome backdrop provided by fans in team-specific T-shirts.
Consider the following:
– The Pittsburgh Penguins finished with the second-worst road record among the 16 playoff teams. Then the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions ripped off three wins in Philadelphia to kickstart their pursuit of a three-peat and backed it up with another victory in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Washington.
– The Capitals dropped Games 1 and 2 at home in overtime against Columbus in the opening round only to beat the Blue Jackets three times in Columbus on their way to advancing to the NHL’s final eight for the fourth consecutive year.
– Winnipeg posted an NHL-high 32 wins on home ice. One of their seven regulation home losses, however, was a wild 6-5 setback at the hands of Nashville in February. The Predators‘ triumph helped them win the Presidents Trophy and guarantee home ice through the playoffs. The Jets, of course, won the series opener in Nashville to steal that advantage.
Home teams are just 26-26 so far in the playoffs heading into Tuesday, when Pittsburgh hosts Washington (7:30 p.m. Eastern, NBCSN) and Winnipeg welcomes the Predators (8 p.m., CNBC). Both series are tied after the visitors claimed their respective openers on the road.
Asked why the games have become a coin flip regardless of venue, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan – whose team was outplayed at PPG Paints Arena by Philadelphia in Game 2 and Game 5 in the opening round – admits he can’t really come up with a reason.
”I don’t know if I have answer for you that makes sense Martavis Bryant Jersey ,” Sullivan said Monday. ”Sometimes when teams go on the road, they have tendency to simplify their game … I know our team historically has been very good at home and I believe we will continue to do that.”
If Pittsburgh wants to become the first franchise in 35 years to win three straight titles, it doesn’t really have much of a choice. Though Sullivan is right in that the Penguins are pretty good at PPG Paints Arena, they’ve only been so-so when facing the Capitals. Washington won Game 3 and Game 6 in Pittsburgh during the 2017 postseason and wrapped up its third straight Metropolitan Division title with a 3-1 win there on April 1.
”You’ve got to create your own momentum, but it gives you good memories,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”If you have to go back into the memory bank, at least we have one. Those are things that you can bank on maybe for some positive feeling going forward.”
Predators forward Nick Bonino couldn’t offer up any specifics about Nashville’s victory in Winnipeg even though it happened all of two months ago, saying only ”I’m sure we played a solid road game.”
The road does offer the visiting team a sense of routine. There aren’t as many friends or family around. No kids waking up in the middle of the night. No traffic to deal with in most places. Just wake up, suit up and go play.
”You go out to dinner, there’s not really any distractions,” Bonino said. ”You’re there for hockey.”
And the hockey in both series has been spectacular. Nashville avoided heading to Canada in an 0-2 hole with a thrilling double-overtime escape in Game 2. Washington responded after blowing a two-goal, third-period lead in Game 1 by winning a predictably chippy Game 2.
That chippiness included a questionable hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson to Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumolin’s head in the second period that sent Dumolin into the concussion protocol. Dumolin skated with his teammates on Monday and his status – much like the status of star center Evgeni Malkin (lower body) and Carl Hagelin (upper body) – won’t be determined until Tuesday.
Wilson was not penalized for the hit and received a pass from the league when it opted not to schedule a disciplinary hearing to review the play. While Dumolin said he didn’t see Wilson coming because he was bracing for a hit by Alex Ovechkin, Wilson claimed Dumolin turned his head just before impact leaving Wilson with no time to react.
”He stops and turns and I’m kind of right there as (Ovechkin) is coming in pretty aggressively Jonathan Cooper Jersey ,” Wilson said. ”It’s a collision.”
Pittsburgh star Kris Letang wasn’t surprised Wilson’s hit wasn’t deemed illegal. Why?
”Because we don’t know anymore (what’s legal and illegal),” he said.
And we don’t know what a given night is going to bring anymore either. Home teams get to sleep in their beds. They get the luxury of the last line change before faceoffs, allowing them to get the matchups they want. And so far it has made zero difference in the result.
”It doesn’t have to be pretty always on the road,” Predators defenseman Matt Irwin said. ”I think we embrace that.”
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington, D.C., and AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.
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