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Law pays the Patriots a visit

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / August 18, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH — If there’s one thing Ty Law remembered about when he played, it was how tight the defensive players were.

It’s not something every unit can say.

In some of his best seasons, he played with Roman Phifer, Lawyer Milloy, and Rodney Harrison.

They’d have years like 2001 when they intercepted 22 passes and returned five for touchdowns, or 2003 when they picked off 29 balls and brought five back to the house.

They performed well on the field because of the work they put in off it.

“I remember when we played and we went out and ate together,” Law said. “We watched film together. We’d go out to somebody’s house . . . drank a couple beers, and we watched film.

“That’s what you do, and it built camaraderie. Then, if you can trust somebody off the field, you can trust them on the field. That’s what we did and that’s how we were able to be successful.”

In the run of memorable defensive backs during the Patriots’ most successful seasons, Law was an obvious centerpiece.

He was a main reason the NFL began to enforce the 5-yard rule — Colts general manager Bill Polian, a member of the competition committee at the time, lobbying after Law harassed his receivers.

Law made a cameo at the Patriots’ final public practice of training camp Friday, catching up with familiar faces, but also touching base with the new players in the secondary.

The Patriots’ much-publicized struggles defending the pass last season weren’t lost on Law. If he had a message for the young defensive backs, it was to keep working.

“You can’t get caught up in all the negative press, because those other guys on the other team, they get paid, too,” he said. “So, you’re going to get beat. You want to try to keep your face out of the papers, off of the TVs, and reading what we’re all talking about because that can really get to you, and once you have a few of those mental lapses and you start thinking about it, your game is going to go to crap, and the next thing you know they’re going to be shipping you to another team. So, just stay the course.”

Law finished his 15-year career in 2009 with 449 tackles, 53 interceptions, and 7 touchdowns. Although he last played with the Broncos, he spent the first 10 years of his career in New England.

“He was the shutdown guy when I first got in the league,” said Brandon Lloyd, who couldn’t remember having any success against Law. “He was always on the best receiver. I just remember him being a really excellent pro. I just admire him.”

Law sees a bit of himself in Patriots fourth-year cornerback Kyle Arrington. It’s not just because Arrington is wearing Law’s old number (24), it’s Arrington’s physical approach and work ethic.

“The way he approaches the game, he’s eager to learn,” Law said. “He was the type of guy that will ask questions. That’s big because no one’s ever too big for that. I used to call Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders when I was at the top of my game, just to try to see what they did. I think that’s the mark of someone wanting to get better.”

Arrington went undrafted, but had seven interceptions last season.

“I think that he has that same drive and that same motivation,” Law said. “ ‘Everyone’s talking about [Devin] McCourty, everyone’s talking about [Ras-I] Dowling. But nobody’s talking about me. What about me? I’m out here making plays. I’ve got seven interceptions.’ No one is really talking about him, so I think he’s still hungry to prove to everybody, ‘You’re going to think about me, you’re going to talk about me.’ I see that in him, and if he continues to keep working like he is, he may be one of the No. 1 corners out there.”

Arrington gladly accepted the compliment.

“Ty’s too nice,” Arrington said. “Even for him to mention me, I’m honored, to say the least. For everybody like Ty and Tedy [Bruschi] to come back and be able to share anything with us as a team, we appreciate it. We’re grateful. It just shows you how much they bleed this organization. So, it’s a privilege.”

Arrington also took all the tips, hints, and techniques he could from Law, knowing that this season is a pivotal one for a young secondary with something to prove.

“The more he can come around, the better,” Arrington said.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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