FOXBORO, Mass. — Kyle Arrington isn’t a very loud guy, even if the neon green cleats he wore Monday night might indicate otherwise. But he’s finding his own ways to be a leader on the Patriots’ defense.
Arrington, who is entering is fifth season with the Patriots, has been rock solid in the five days of practice so far in training camp. He hasn’t had the standout day like Aqib Talib did on Monday night, but he’s been maybe the most consistent defensive back in both individual and team drills so far. That sort of steady, dependable effort may not garner him the big headlines or Pro Bowl selections, but he is setting an example for the rest of the team.
“[I’m] definitely trying to lead by example,” Arrington noted on Tuesday. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the most vocal guy in the group, but I just try to go out there and let my play speak for itself.”
Arrington’s play in pass coverage has been noteworthy in camp, but his most notable play thus far actually came when defending the run. The 26-year-old corner got into a shoving match with running back Stevan Ridley on the last play of practice on Tuesday. Playing with that level of passion and aggression, especially on the last play of the day in a camp practice, is exactly the sort of leadership that Arrington wants to exhibit.
On Tuesday, Arrington showed off that physical style of play once again, jamming receivers at the line and swatting down a few of Tom Brady‘s tight spirals. His most impressive play of the day was during a 1-on-1 drill, facing off against Danny Amendola. Arrington jammed Amendola at the line of scrimmage, throwing off his timing with Brady, undercutting the route and deflecting the pass away. The play earned Arrington a round of cheers and high fives from his teammates in the secondary and even some “ohs” and “ahs” from the packed crowd.
“All feels right in the world again,” Arrington told NESN.com about some of his stellar play on Tuesday. “No, jokes aside. It feels good, though.”
A four-year, $16 million contract signed earlier this offseason gave Arrington and his family some sense of security, at least for the near future, which he appreciates. But neither the money nor the security has hindered his desire to keep growing as a player.
“It’s nice to be wanted. Everyone wants to be wanted,” Arrington openly admitted. “It’s year-in and year-out, this time of year you have to earn your position on the team. So, this training camp is no different.”
Well, maybe it’s a little bit different. Arrington did change his number for the third time as a Patriot — he wore No. 27 as a rookie –earlier this offseason, trading his old No. 24 to new teammate Adrian Wilson for the No. 25 he now wears on his back.
When asked if wearing the new number felt any different, Arrington couldn’t help but laugh. But, eventually, he brought it back to the team.
“It’s all about that Flying Elvis at the end of the day,” Arrington said. “I’m just happy to be part of the team.”
1. Zach Sudfeld — Play of the day award goes to the rook, who made a diving snag in the back of the end zone that drew a big celebratory fist pump from Brady.
2. Kembrell Thompkins — He made a terrific leaping catch over the top of Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan in 7-on-7s. He was much better than on Monday.
3. Jamie Collins — Collins made some great moves during team drills and showed off his speed, getting the edge in 1-on-1s.
1. Stephon Morris — The undrafted rookie didn’t do anything wrong on Tuesday, but he came up limp early in practice and was forced off the field. Missing any extended time will only further hurt his chances at making the roster.
2. LeGarrette Blount — A miscommunication with Brady on a should-be handoff frustrated the quarterback. He also dropped a pass out of the backfield.
3. Ryan Mallett — No interceptions this time, but he continues to struggle with his accuracy.