For the third season in a row, Patriots CB Kyle Arrington earned a starting spot despite heated competition. This year, he fought off second-year CB Ras-I Dowling, whom many expected to win the job when he was healthy in the spring.
Arrington, a former practice-squad player, has started 28 games over the past two seasons and he overachieved in 2011, with 15 passes defensed to go along with seven interceptions (which tied for the AFC lead). We hear that while the Patriots like Arrington and his role with the team, the original hope was that Dowling, who is bigger and more physical, would win the job.
Dowling will see his fair share of field time, as the Patriots often use a sub-package, which features Dowling on the outside opposite Devin McCourty with Arrington moving into the slot. But Patriots fans should get used to seeing Arrington as the starting corner, as he has clearly impressed the coaching staff, and Dowling has yet to seize the opportunity.
Regarding Arrington, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio had this to say in early August: “Kyle, he’s put together well now. He’s 195 pounds or whatever it may be. I mean he’s maybe a bit short (listed at 5-foot-10) but he’s strong, he’s got good playing speed; very mentally tough.
“There’s a guy that’s really improved from the time that he started here. … He’s put in a lot of work and it’s really a credit to him and the coaching staff that he’s been able to make himself into a pretty good player.”
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