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Thursday, October 6, 2011
Guyton ready for bigger role

By Chris Forsberg

AP Photo/Charles KrupaPatriots linebacker Gary Guyton will shoulder a larger role Sunday vs. the Jets.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- His eyebrows shot skyward when a reporter asked Gary Guyton about having previously filled Jerod Mayo's role back in 2009.

Was it really that long ago?

"Life goes by really fast," Guyton said. "It's my fourth year now, but I still remember being a rookie back in the day. I was overwhelmed at the time."

Guyton won't be so overwhelmed on Sunday when he's likely to step into the role as the team's starting middle linebacker and primary play-caller in Mayo's absence due to a knee injury sustained in last week's win in Oakland. Despite a reduction in playing time ever since he started 16 games that 2009 season, Guyton said he's remained ready to do whatever the team asks of him.

"I’ve done it before," Guyton said of filling Mayo's shoes. "So I'll just do the best I can, come in and do my job."

But he stressed he won't do it alone. Over the course of his first three answers to reporters questions, Guyton used the word "together" seven different times, a clear indicator that the Patriots will lean on more than just Guyton to fill Mayo's shoes.

That's something Pepper Johnson stressed earlier in the week.

"Losing such a leader like Mayo, [in] my past experience, normally guys put a little extra on their plate, put a little extra on their shoulders," said Johnson. "Everybody has to take a piece of Mayo out on the field and try to perform and take some of his responsibilities – not just try to put it into one person, but everybody just go out there and play for Jerod until we get him back onto the field."

Guyton has played 109 of 284 potential snaps this season (38.3 percent) with the Patriots leaning on Brandon Spikes as an early down run stopper (a hamstring injury that kept Guyton out of Game 2 vs. San Diego didn't aid his cause, either). Guyton has 10 tackles this season, including one for a loss.

As for the Jets, Guyton said the team is ready for a potential return to that familiar "ground and pound."

"Whatever they decide to play or throw at us, we’ll be ready," he said.