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Resetting Patriots depth chart in secondary 03.18.14 at 1:42 pm ET
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Devin McCourty was a key defensive piece of the puzzle for the Patriots in 2013. (AP)

Devin McCourty figures to be the leader of the New England secondary in 2014. (AP)

To this point in the offseason, no position in New England has undergone more of a change than the secondary. The Patriots have lost cornerback Aqib Talib and strong safety Steve Gregory, but they’ve added Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Here’s a look at New England’€™s current depth in the secondary.

Darrelle Revis: The veteran corner, signed earlier this month, figures to fundamentally step into Talib’s old spot as the No. 1 corner who will face off against the lead pass catcher on the other side of the ball. If Revis is that guy, he will face an impressive roster of receivers over the course of the 2014 season, including Mike Wallace (Miami), Reggie Wayne (Indy), Keenan Allen (San Diego), A.J. Green (Cincy), Demaryius Thomas (Denver) and Brandon Marshall (Chicago).

Brandon Browner: As of this point, the veteran figures to be in the mix for the No. 2 cornerback spot. Because of suspensions and health problems, he’€™s only played 20 games the last two seasons, and so he could be a little rusty out of the gate, especially considering that he’€™ll be getting adjusted to a new team, as well as the fact that he’€™ll sidelined the first four games of the 2014 season because of a ban for violating the league policy on PEDs. However, providing he stays healthy, there’€™s no reason to think he shouldn’t be a part of the rotation by the midway point of the season.

Alfonzo Dennard: He’s currently in the home stretch of his jail term in Nebraska, and his future when it comes to playing time could be fluid, with much of it tied to Browner’€™s situation. With Browner out for the first four games, however, he figures to be the No. 2 corner, at least for the short term.

Kyle Arrington: Many of his critics were hopeful that with the acquisition of Browner and Revis, the Patriots were going to get rid of Arrington. No dice — he remains one of the better slot corners in the game, and the pickup of Revis allows him to stay in the slot, a position he’€™s become suited to over the years. Barring injury, look for him there again in 2014.

Logan Ryan: For the most part, the Rutgers product had a very good rookie season, finishing with five picks (best on the team) and looking very comfortable over the course of the year. (He was overwhelmed a bit in the AFC title game against the Broncos, but even with his maturation, was probably playing a little over his head in that contest anyway.) With Revis and Browner in the picture, he figures to get most of his work as the nickel back and in sub packages, at least early on. The good thing is that the Patriots spent the majority of the season with five defensive backs on the field, so he should still get some significant snaps, even if he is bumped down the depth chart.
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Read More: Adrian Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Brandon Browner
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Cornerbacks 02.07.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Aqib Talib had an impressive season with the Patriots. (AP)

Aqib Talib had an impressive season with the Patriots. (AP)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’€™ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We’€™ve focused on special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks, offensive line, defensive line and linebackers. Now, it’€™s the cornerbacks.

Roster (stats taken from coaches film review): Aqib Talib (44 tackles, 4 interceptions, 13 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble), Alfonzo Dennard (42 tackles, 1 interception, 8 passes defensed), Kyle Arrington (60 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 1 interception, 12 passes defensed), Logan Ryan (41 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 5 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 10 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble)

Overview: For the first four games of the season, Talib was a bona fide Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and while it wasn’t quite man coverage on a weekly basis as some would have you believe, he revealed himself to be the best pure corner the Patriots have had since the days of Ty Law. He was able to do a terrific job against some of the best pass catchers in the league, including Tampa’s Vincent Jackson, Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and Atlanta’s A.J. Green. He was hobbled, missing four games in the middle of the season before coming back (maybe too quickly) and being embarrassed by Carolina’s gritty slot receiver Steve “Ice up, son” Smith. He finished strong — right up until the first half of the AFC title game, where he was knocked out in the early going when Wes Welker crashed into him coming over the middle.

As for the rest of the group, it was a good year when they were slotted into the appropriate spots. Dennard was more than competitive as the No. 2 corner, while Arrington held up well in the slot. Meanwhile, Ryan did well to kind of cover all the bases as a rookie — while none of the interceptions were especially worthy of a highlight reel, he made the plays when it counted and ended up leading the team in picks with five. The problems arose when Talib went down, and the group as a whole was forced to step up. (Dennard into the role of lead corner, Arrington out wide and Ryan wherever needed.) That was especially the case in the AFC title game, when they appeared wholly unprepared for the offensive onslaught that Peyton Manning and the Denver passing attack unleashed on them.

This will be an interesting offseason. There’€™s a question as to whether or not Talib — a free agent — will return for 2014 and beyond. Meanwhile, Arrington is set to undergo groin surgery this week, while the team hopes that Dennard and Ryan continue to progress. Regardless of what happens to Talib, the feeling here is that New England needs a little more depth at this position going forward.

Best moment: Talib provided plenty of terrific moments over the course of the year, but his best was probably against the Saints, where he worked against Graham in fundamentally man coverage for most of the afternoon and didn’t allow a catch. A close second was his pass breakup late in the win over the Falcons — as well as his pose on the bench afterward, which turned into an Internet meme.

Worst moment: Talib going down early in the AFC title game for the second consecutive season, and the inability of the rest of the corners to step up in his place.

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Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan
Cornerback Kyle Arrington to undergo groin surgery on Friday 02.05.14 at 8:52 pm ET
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Cornerback Kyle Arrington is scheduled to undergo groin surgery on Friday to address an injury that dogged him for the better part of the 2013 season, according to his agency. The timeframe for recovery is roughly six weeks, which should have Arrington ready for the start of OTA’s this spring.

The 27-year-old Arrington, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound corner out of Hofstra, played in 16 games last season, starting 12. According to the coaches’ film review, he finished the season with 60 tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hits, one interception and 12 passes defensed.

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Kyle Arrington on M&M: ‘Definitely want to throw the first punch’ when playing physical Ravens 12.23.13 at 11:57 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich and cornerback Kyle Arrington checked in with the Mut & Merloni show on Monday to recap Sunday’s 41-7 victory over the Ravens. To hear the interviews, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington sacks Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the first half of Sunday's game. (AP)

Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington sacks Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the first half of Sunday’s game. (AP)

Ninkovich said after the game that he was confident the Patriots would win after a solid week of practice.

“I think this week we really just emphasized the better we’re prepared for this game, the more execution we do on the practice field, the more confidence and the faster we’re going to play come game time,” he explained. “I think that it really started Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I had a great feeling about practice week. We were running around, executing well. Everyone was doing their job. That’s what it comes down to.”

Arrington agreed that the team was especially locked in, for a number of reasons.

“Looking at guys’ faces, how focused everyone was, the week of preparation, I can definitely see where Rob was coming from,” Arrington said. “Definitely had a good feeling heading toward the game. A lot of implications on the line as well. Guys really didn’t need any extra motivation for this game. Plus a team who ended our season last year. Definitely one of those games where you mark it on the schedule.”

The Patriots were coming off a disappointing loss to the Dolphins and rebounded well.

“The Miami game, we let that one go, we didn’t finish that game on defense and had a bad taste in our mouth,” Ninkovich said. “We’ve played the Ravens a lot since I’ve been here. It’s a team that we know well. You know their concepts, we’ve played them a bunch in the past. You just throw on a tape of them and see the things that they do well. Just going out there and having a good game plan, and executing the game plan, that’s what it’s all about. So again, I think having the great week of preparation helped us execute in the game.

“Also, playing those guys is motivating in itself. Just ’cause it’s not like you’re playing your best friends out there.”

The Patriots responded to questions about their ability to match the Ravens’ toughness with a strong effort on both sides of the ball.

“Whenever you play Baltimore it’s always a physical game, hard-hitting game,” Arrington said. “You definitely want to throw the first punch. I think we came out, strike fast and then never look back.”

Said Ninkovich: “Every time we play them, it’s always a physical game. I’m very sore today. It’s just the way it is. When you look at the schedule to start the season, I just knew this was going to be a tough game. We always play each other tough.

“It’s always a good game, and I was happy that we were able to go out there and perform well for four quarters.”

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Read More: Kyle Arrington, Rob Ninkovich,
Matthew Slater: ‘It was a perfect kick by Stephen Gostkowski’ 12.08.13 at 11:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO – With already two miraculous comebacks at home this season, the Patriots may have outdone themselves Sunday afternoon in their 27-26 win over the Browns.

Trailing by 12 with just over two minutes to play in the game, Julian Edelman hauled in a two-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady making it 26-21 with 1:01 remaining and then the Patriots recovered a Stephen Gostkowski onside kick, setting up Danny Amendola’s game-winning one-yard touchdown catch with 31 seconds left in regulation sending what was left of the Gillette Stadium crowd into jubilation.

The most significant play of their two touchdowns in 30 seconds outburst was Kyle Arrington’s onside kick recovery.

Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski

According to author Bob Hyldburg, it was the first time in Patriots history that the team recovered an onside kick and then converted the ensuing possession into a game-winning score. The last time the Patriots recovered an onside kick was 1995 in a Wild Card game against the Browns where Bill Belichick was on the opposing sideline, but even with the recovery the Patriots fell 20-13 — this time it was a much sweeter outcome for the Patriots.

Gostkowski’s kick went to the middle of the field where it was touched by Cleveland’s Fozzy Whitaker and then Arrington alertly pounced on the ball giving the Patriots possession at the Browns’ 40-yard line.

“It was a perfect kick by Stephen [Gostkowski],” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “I don’t think he could have kicked that any better. The way we practiced it, I don’t think he’s ever kicked it that good. What can you say about Stephen and the year that he’s had? He’s been so reliable for us game in and game out, so I’m really not surprised that he executed like that because of the year he is having. Kyle [Arrington] did a great job of being alert and getting on the ball and we executed the ball the way we ideally drew it up.”

For Gostkowski and all kickers for that matter, it’s something they practice a lot, but very rarely does it come up in live game situations.

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Read More: Browns, Kyle Arrington, Matthew Slater, Patriots
Kyle Arrington on M&M: Wes Welker ‘one of the most talented guys I’ve matched up against’ 11.25.13 at 1:32 pm ET
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Patriots defensive back Kyle Arrington joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss his team’s  34-31 comeback win in overtime against the Broncos on Sunday night.

Kyle Arrington

Kyle Arrington

After trailing 24-0 at halftime, Arrington and New England’s defense stymied Denver in the second half and paved the way for a Tom Brady-led comeback.

“We just rallied behind each other, played for each other and had confidence not only in ourselves but in our teammates,” Arrington said. “We were just battle-tested, and we’re going to fight to the very end.”

The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to start the second half, then eventually won on a Stephen Gostkowski 31-yard field goal in overtime.

“It’s hard to play a complete 60-minute football game, but just credit our guys who just kept battling and fighting,” Arrington said. “As long as there’s time left on that clock, we’re going to battle.”

The New England offense lost three fumbles in the first quarter, putting the defense in a number of inauspicious positions.

“[There was] naturally a little frustration, because we dug ourselves quite a hole, but to come back and win it in that fashion, it’s very rewarding,” Arrington said. “To be in a hole like that, and just crawl our way out of it slowly but surely, it’s a testament to the character of the guys in our locker room.”

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Read More: Kyle Arrington, Stephen Gostkowski, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Chandler Jones on M&M: ‘I get a front-row seat to watch Tom Brady and this offense go to work’ 11.04.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and cornerback Kyle Arrington joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about Sunday’s 55-31 win over the Steelers.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Jones, Arrington and the rest of the Pats defense did not need to be at their best as New England’s Tom Brady-led offense erupted for 55 points and 610 total yards on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

“I get a front row seat to watch Tom Brady and this offense go to work, and it’s fun,” Jones said.

Brady and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dueled as both threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.

“[Roethlisberger is] tremendous, it’s almost like playing that backyard streetball,” Arrington said.

Although the defense did not have its best showing of the season, it stepped up when necessary. The Pats forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) and sacked Roethlisberger five times. Rookie defensive back Duron Harmon and safety Devin McCourty registered the interceptions, while defensive tackle Joe Vellano recovered the fumble.

“Fourth quarter, I think we did a great job of finishing the game. Offense did a tremendous job of helping us out,” Arrington said. “It was a great team effort yesterday.”

The defensive line once again performed admirably, as Jones led the way with two sacks. Jones continues to thrive in a versatile role that puts him as a traditional defensive end at times, and as an outside linebacker as well.

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, chandler jones, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon
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