FOXBORO – Kyle Arrington didn’t carve a niche on the Patriots as a one-trick pony. Undrafted out of Hostra in 2008, Arrington realized quickly the value of being able to say, “I can do that…”
It’s served him well. From special teams, to outside corner to slot corner, Arrington’s speed, strength, athleticism and attitude have combined to make him one of those players that a team has to have.
On Sunday afternoon, Arrington was playing safety for a long stretch.
Asked after practice about the reps he took there, Arrington said coyly, “I dabbled. I dabbled a little bit. At this point in camp, wherever coach is comfortable to play me, I’m more than confident in myself.”
It isn’t a looming position change for Arrington. The Patriots are just building depth Bill Belichick explained Monday
“When you start getting into sub defenses where you’re playing five and six defensive backs, you can’t carry 12 defensive backs in a game so everybody has a backup for their position,” Belichick offered. “ This is the time of year in training camp where we try to work players at different positions, not to move them but to give ourselves and our team depth so when we get to a 46-man roster we’re able to sufficiently back up everybody.
“Being able to do multiple jobs and multiple things, you have to have that on your team, especially when you eliminate a lot of players on your team like the offensive linemen and the quarterbacks and the specialists and all those who really don’t factor into a lot of your offensive or defensive personnel groups or the kicking game … You have to have somebody to do those jobs, and then you have to have somebody to back those jobs up. You don’t really have all that many players to choose from to tell you the truth when you really think about it.”
Arrington knows the competition is fierce to make the Patriots as a defensive back. Every one of them, except maybe Darrelle Revis, is going to have a role in the kicking game.
“In general, it’s very beneficial (to be versatile),” said Arrington. “In this business, the more you can do (the better). If a guy plays a few positions on defense and special teams it makes him that much more valuable for any team. That’s where I’m coming from. We got a lot of capable guys on our roster and a very competitive bunch as well.”
There are times Arrington’s lack of height gets him exploited by larger receivers and tight ends. But in the slot, his upper body strength helps him redirect his man and his quick feet are perfect for allowing him to close windows when a receiver comes out of his break.
“I think Kyle has a really good skill set to play anywhere back there,” said Belichick. “He’s fast, he’s tough, [and] he’s a good tackler, which your safeties need to be. Not that your corners don’t need to be, but I’d say it’s even more important at safety. He tackles well, he runs well, he’s a very athletic player. So I’d say his toughness and his tackling are similar to Devin [McCourty], same type of player who played corner to safety with similar type skills – speed, range, toughness. Those assets you need at safety, and Devin has them and Kyle has them.”
Which is a big reason why, when it comes time to shave the roster, Arrington figures to be well inside the cut line.