FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots backup right tackle Quinn Ojinnaka was surprised, to say the very least, when he lined up at practice two weeks ago and saw cornerback Kyle Arrington get down before him in a three-point stance.
Ojinnaka had to do something of a double-take, just to figure out what was really going on. Eventually, Ojinnaka simply assumed Arrington was working as a member of the scout team and acting as Colts defensive end Robert Mathis, who is a slender edge rusher.
"Yeah, I was definitely shocked because when we got into practice, I thought it was just [Arrington] giving us a look on how Mathis was going to play because Mathis is a little small guy, about the same size as Kyle," Ojinnaka said. "I didn’t know it was actually going to be him going into the game doing it."
So, if Arrington's own teammates didn’t know what was happening, you can only imagine what Colts right tackle Ryan Diem was thinking when Arrington lined up as a down lineman for a good chunk of second-half snaps last week.
"He was definitely surprised to see me out there, especially lined up in the three-point stance," Arrington said of Diem. "He was definitely surprised."
The two had some good battles, but Arrington won the war. He forced Colts quarterback Peyton Manning out of the pocket at least twice, with Manning throwing one incompletion and one interception to Devin McCourty. There were other times when Diem, who is listed about 125 pounds heavier than Arrington, manhandled the smaller cornerback.
Arrington laughed that one off, though, because he's used to blitzing against running backs, not offensive tackles.
"Hey, it's a lot different than going against running backs," Arrington said. "They get paid to block."
Overall, the tactic helped the Patriots' defense in their 31-28 victory against the Colts, and it's going to force New England's opponents to prepare for it down the road, especially after Arrington lined up in the same formation again against the Lions. And the idea stemmed from a drill in training camp, when the Pats' defensive backs tried to beat the running backs to the quarterback.
Arrington was impressive enough during those drills to warrant his own page in last week's game plan. As Arrington did it more and more, the Colts started to keep a back to that side, and he was actually commanding double teams. Meanwhile, standing on the sidelines, Ojinnaka was chuckling to himself.
And afterward, Arrington shrugged his shoulders and flashed a wide grin.
"I tried to be as disruptive as I could," he said.