Arrington's taken long road to be pick leader

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Arrington's taken long road to be pick leader

FOXBORO The fact that the NFL's interceptions leader will be on the field when New England faces Philadelphia on Sunday is not that surprising.

Asante Samuel? Nnamdi Asomugha? Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? All are pro bowl-caliber cornerbacks. But the league's leader in picks thus far this season is New England's Kyle Arrington.

Seriously.

Arrington, who less than two years ago would have given anything just to be on the 53-man roster of the Patriots -- or any NFL team for that matter -- has been one of the few bright spots on a Patriots defense that has been inconsistent most of this season.

The 25-year-old cornerback leads the NFL with seven interceptions, a major improvement from his career total before this season . . . of one.

"I just come into work everyday, try to get better," Arrington said. "That's what we're all trying to do. Stats (are) no concern for us."

Maybe not, but they can go far in shaping Arrington's future, a future that looks a lot brighter now than it did when he was coming out of college.

Undrafted out of Hofstra -- a school that no longer has a football program -- Arrington is the latest where-did-he-come-from success story for the Patriots (7-3) who come into Sunday's game with a two-game lead in the AFC East.

After appearing in nine games in 2009 (eight with New England and one with Tampa Bay), Arrington came into his own in 2010 while appearing in all 16 regular season games and tallying 71 tackles.

This season, he has been even more impressive.

Along with an NFL-best seven interceptions, Arrington also has 50 tackles which puts him on pace to set a personal best in that category as well.

And to think, just dressing for every game would have been good enough for Arrington just a few months ago.

"It's definitely a blessing," said Arrington, who spent a week in Philadelphia's training camp in 2008. "I put a lot of hard work in these last 18 months. But by no means am I satisfied, or where I want to be or think I should be."

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

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Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.