Lawrence Guy’s Versatility Gives Patriots’ D-Line Plenty Of Options

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FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s a reason Lawrence Guy, like many players in New England, is listed vaguely on the Patriots’ roster as a defensive lineman.

Guy, at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, is the size of a defensive tackle, but the Patriots love versatility because they play a hybrid defensive front. Sometimes the Patriots will be in a 3-4, other times they’ll be in a 4-3, and there are moments when it’s neither or both.

The Patriots didn’t have a player like Guy, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, on their roster last season, eschewing the mid-sized defensive linemen for traditional edge rushers and nose tackle types. There’s a good chance Guy will be asked to play anywhere from nose tackle to seven-technique defensive end with the Patriots this season, because head coach Bill Belichick asked if he could handle that type of responsibility when he visited New England as a free agent.

“I said, ‘I feel comfortable anywhere you put me at.’ It’s one of those situations with me as a player that I … found that I needed to play different positions for me to be the best player I can be,” Guy said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “Coming in this situation, wherever they need to put me at, I can go ahead and do it. I’m not a great corner. I’m a little bit heavy, but I’ll try it.”

The Patriots should be just fine at cornerback.

“You put me on the field, I’ll do what I gotta do to make a play,” Guy said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m at nose (tackle), (three-technique defensive tackle), (five-technique defensive end), (six-technique defensive end) or (seven-technique defensive end). I’ve seen it and played it all, so I’m just happy to go out there and play and make plays.”

The Patriots have more certainty at defensive tackle than they do at defensive end at this point in the offseason. Defensive tackles Alan Branch and Malcom Brown are multiyear starters, and Vincent Valentine showed flashes as a rookie in 2016. Only Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich return from the Patriots’ 2016 defensive end rotation. They added veteran Kony Ealy and rookies Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise and Corey Vereen. They also have Geneo Grissom, who almost exclusively played special teams last season.

That means Guy might be inserted into the Patriots’ defensive tackle and defensive end rotations this season. That will be especially necessary if Rivers and Wise don’t prove they can contribute as rookies. The Patriots also won’t be forced to play an undersized player out of position as they did last season with Chris Long at five-technique defensive end.

“I like to be on the field, so if they put me at a position they need me to work at, I’ll go out there and do it,” Guy said. “The whole object is to be able to play multi positions on the field so you can be out there for the most time you can and how you help the team out. If you can only do one thing, you’re not really helping the team. If you can do multiple things, you can help the team a lot.”

Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN

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