IRVING, Texas -Gary Guyton spent his first four seasons with the New England Patriots. He grew accustomed to a certain expectation of winning. He also grew accustomed to playing football for a living.
But when the Patriots chose not to bring Guyton back for the 2012-2013 season, he found himself looking for a job. But he knew that his experience, 229 tackles and 3 fumbles would come in handy for an NFL team eventually.
"I was just preparing myself," Guyton said. "You never know what can happen."
And sure enough, the Cowboys found themselves in need of a linebacker. After the season-ending injury to Sean Lee, the Cowboys also suffered injuries to Orie Lemon (placed on the IR) and Dan Connor. So this week they brought in Guyton.
"You just get the call and be ready to go," Guyton said. "So I got the call saying 'come in for a work out' and I came and now I'm a Cowboy."
Guyton has played in big games and understands the urgency. He wants to prove to the team that they went out and signed someone who was prepared for the opportunity.
"I'm just working out, running, doing the best I can. I (already) had my training in Atlanta. That's where I stay."
It's not uncommon for a player who hasn't been on an NFL team to struggle getting back into game shape when they are picked up. Even players that work out constantly learn that actual practices and games can be a whole different experience. Guyton claimed that there was one thing that he had to get used to, but it had nothing to do with being in shape.
"The helmet. My forehead is sore," Guyton joked. "Just new people, new system. I'm just getting in here and working through it, working hard."
Guyton was brought in not only because of his skills, but because he has four years of experience in a 3-4 defense. Since Guyton might be thrown into the fire early, it was important that there was not much of a leaning curve.
"It's mostly similar so I've been through it," Guyton said. "I've been looking through it. I understand the 3-4 defense and the basics of it."
These few days of practice are very important for Guyton. The Cowboys would normally start Connor at linebacker in the absence of Lee, but Connor is still recovering from a neck strain and his limited participation in Thursday's practice means that his status for Sunday's game against the Eagles could be in jeopardy.
If Connor is to sit out, the Cowboys will be extremely thin at linebacker, meaning that they would need to give Guyton minutes as early as this Sunday.
Guyton understands that the he might play his first NFL game of the season in Philadelphia, but he knows not to get ahead of himself. A lot has to be done on his end before then just to be prepared.
"Just going through the basics right now and getting those down," he said. "Just moving on through the playbook."