THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

On the job in offseason

Patriots’ Arrington cannot take it easy

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / July 3, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington doesn’t consider himself to be a man of many needs. He is back home with his parents in Accokeek, Md. He works out not far from there, and makes the occasional trip to Boston.

He receives updates on the NFL labor negotiations via player representatives. His entertainment doesn’t extend much beyond catching a movie with his fiancee. For Arrington, this offseason is about preparing to keep a job.

Arrington often refers to 2010 as a blessing. He stepped out of the shadows of special teams, and made a career-high 14 starts. He returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown against the Dolphins, and brought back an interception 36 yards for a score against the Packers.

The highlights remain in the back of the 24-year-old’s mind as he works with his trainer.

“At the end of the day I - just like everyone else in the league - are assuming this is just a matter of when this gets worked out,’’ Arrington said. “I’ve always been one to self-critique myself and I’ve always been my hardest critic. I knew what I needed to work on and I’ve been trying to focus on those areas in the offseason. I’m just ready to pick up where I left off.’’

While the owners and union attempt to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, players are on their own. In April, Arrington joined some of his teammates on the defensive side for a couple of days of workouts. The group also had dinners and built camaraderie.

Arrington is following a strict routine, and has added yoga to his training to help with flexibility and balance. Every now and then, Falcons defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and Cardinals running back Tim Hightower join Arrington for workouts.

“When everyone’s together you can mix up the workouts and we all push each other,’’ Arrington said. “It’s always nice to have a workout partner and have people who are as competitive as you and play the same sport. It helps you in different areas.’’

The players not only work out together but exchange ideas about training and techniques. When it comes to experiences on the field, Arrington now has a little more to contribute to those conversations. He entered the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2008 out of Hofstra, but bounced around on practice squads with the Eagles and Buccaneers. In 2009, the Patriots signed Arrington to their practice squad, and he eventually was added to the 53-man roster, playing eight games, mostly on special teams.

Being on a team coached by Bill Belichick, who rewards hard work, gave Arrington hope he would get an opportunity. And with veteran Leigh Bodden out with a shoulder injury and second-year cornerback Darius Butler struggling, Arrington was thrown into the mix in Week 3 last season. He finished the year with 71 tackles. Belichick even tested Arrington’s versatility by subbing him at defensive end a handful of times.

It felt like a rookie season as Arrington became more involved in the Patriots’ defensive schemes. This season, Arrington will battle another group of corners trying to get the same opportunity.

Devin McCourty, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2010, will return along with veterans Bodden, Butler, and Jonathan Wilhite. The Patriots also drafted defensive back Ras-I Dowling in the second round out of Virginia.

But Arrington is working to be included in the mix.

“I feel like I definitely improved from the year before, but there’s always going to be competition, especially with a Bill Belichick team,’’ Arrington said. “And competition brings out the best in people, and I’m just looking forward to getting back there and playing some ball.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

Patriots Video