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As Patriots hit reset button at cornerback, coach Josh Boyer sounds ready for challenge 06.11.15 at 5:32 pm ET
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Josh Boyer likes what he's seen from the New England corners to this point in the offseason. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Josh Boyer likes what he’s seen from the New England corners to this point in the offseason. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — For a guy who just lost his top three cornerbacks, Josh Boyer is pretty upbeat.

The Patriots cornerbacks coach saw Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner walk in free agency and Kyle Arrington released this past offseason. But he understands the reality of the situation — the only thing that’s permanent in the NFL is change.

“I think each year is new, and it’s a natural transition, a natural progression,” he said after an OTA session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “I think everybody that’s here — players, coaches, I think everybody understands there’s going to be turnover. There will be things like that. Again, it’s just an all-new start.”

That all-new start includes veteran free-agent pickups Robert McClain, Bradley Fletcher and Derek Cox, as well as rookies Darryl Roberts and Jimmy Jean. They join a group of returnees that includes Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, as well as former practice squadder Justin Green.

“I think all of our guys in our group have worked extremely hard, whether it’s in the classroom or the weight room,” Boyer said of the new additions. “The field work (and) the offseason coaching sessions we get to do out here.

“Again, when you get to a competitive situation in training camp, that’s what you’ll see. The chemistry that you’re building. Right now, you’re just trying to see if guys can pick up this, can they pick up that.”

Boyer indicated Thursday that there’s been some good carryover for the veterans, even during these early stages of the season.

“I think it’s like anything else in any other profession. I’m sure all you guys have had experience at other places — there’s some carryover, and then, there’s things that are different,” he said, gesturing toward the media. “I think it’s the same for the guys who have come in from different programs. I think there’s a little bit that carries over, and then, I think there’s a little bit that’s new.

“I think the important thing for all of our guys to remember is whether or not it’s corners or safeties, linebackers, defensive line, offensive players. It’s for everybody to get on the same page. That’s how you build a team, and this is just the infancy stages of building a team. And that’s really what we’re trying to do.”

On Thursday, a lot of the focus was on Butler, who was disciplined for missing the first OTA workout because of a missed flight, and was subsequently forced to sit out practice sessions. He was back on the field in front of the media for the first time Thursday, and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

“I think Malcolm has had a productive offseason. I think he’s been pretty productive. What we’re asking him to do, I think he’s improving,” Boyer said of Butler. “(But) I think we need to continue to improve. I think (Butler) needs to continue to build on that. And then when I think when we get to training camp and get into a competitive situation against our offense and we start working a little bit against the Saints, I think you’re going to see some things there. Not just Malcolm (but) everybody in our group.

“All that stuff will play out in time.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Josh Boyer, Kyle Arrington
5 looming positional battles for Patriots 06.08.15 at 9:59 pm ET
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New Patriot Travaris Cadet could have the inside track for the job of third-down back. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

New Patriot Travaris Cadet could have the inside track for the job of third-down back. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The 2015 Patriots roster is starting to come into sharper focus, and as a result, there are some positional battles starting to take shape. With the understanding that there’s a lot of football left before the start of training camp at the end of July, here are four positions that bear watching as New England’s mandatory minicamp approaches later this month and camp begins in July.

Backup outside linebacker/defensive end: This spot demands some versatility in that defenders have to show an ability to not just get after the quarterback and set the edge, but also play over a tight end and drop into coverage from time to time. There are a bunch of different possibilities when it comes to working behind the likes of expected starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones that one of the candidates — Jake Bequette — has apparently spent some of the spring working at tight end in an attempt to get on the field. Opponent, situation and scheme will all play a sizable role as to who is on the field, and while free-agent pickup Jabaal Sheard probably shouldn’t necessarily be labeled as a backup, he will augment the work of Jones and Ninkovich. Sheard will lead a group that includes returnee Zach Moore (more of a defensive end/pass rush type than an outside linebacker, as well as rookies Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Xzavier Dickson.

Backup inside/middle linebacker: The release of Brandon Spikes on Monday creates a void at the linebacker spot for New England. While Spikes wasn’t going to unseat any of the three long-term starters (Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower) for work as a three-down linebacker, his run-stuffing ability made him a good situational option on first and second downs. With Hightower’s offseason shoulder surgery leaving him a question mark when it comes to participating over the summer, the Patriots could still try and add someone at the spot. If not, the return of Dane Fletcher creates some depth at the position, and is likely the favorite to see the bulk of the playing time, at least at this point. In addition, James Morris (who was on the shelf all last season with a leg injury) will compete for reps alongside youngster Chris White and rookie Matt Wells.

Third-down back: The Patriots lost one of their most impressive offensive options to free agency this offseason, as Shane Vereen signed with the Giants. However, New England hasn’t been shy about turnover at this spot the last few years, as Kevin Faulk have way to Danny Woodhead, who yielded to Vereen. Now, it’ll be next man up here, and there are plenty of possibilities. The Patriots acquired Travaris Cadet in free agency — the 26-year-old had 38 catches last season out of the backfield with the Saints, and could be the early favorite to win the gig. Cadet will have his challengers, however, with one of them likely being second-year pro James White. White, who fundamentally took a redshirt year last season while sitting behind Vereen and the rest of the backs, has an impressive college resume at Wisconsin (he had 39 catches as a senior, and 73 total as a collegian), and certainly possesses the same sort of size and shiftiness as Vereen. While Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount have shown a willingness to catch passes out of the backfield, the wild card here is likely Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 221-pounder who was swiped from the Panthers off waivers and spent the whole season on IR because of a knee issue. The Stanford product caught 27 passes his last two seasons at Stanford, and could be part of the conversation as the summer continues.

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Read More: Cameron Fleming, chandler jones, Dan Connolly, Dane Fletcher
Kyle Arrington signs 3-year deal with Ravens 05.13.15 at 6:50 pm ET
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That didn’t take long.

After being released by the Patriots on Monday, cornerback Kyle Arrington has signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens pending a physical, the team announced Wednesday.

Arrington was released after he would have earned $3 million this season and count $4.6 million against the salary cap.

The cornerback spent six seasons in New England and was an all-around good guy who was well-respected in the locker room. Arrington played in all 16 games in five straight seasons, before playing in 14 this past year. He had nine total interceptions, including seven in 2011.

This leaves the Patriots with no starting cornerbacks remaining from their Super Bowl winning team last year.

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Patriots announce release of CB Kyle Arrington, addition of TE Fred Davis, OL Kevin Hughes 05.11.15 at 4:56 pm ET
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The Patriots announced a series of moves on Monday afternoon, releasing cornerback Kyle Arrington and signing tight end Fred Davis and free agent offensive lineman Kevin Hughes. The following is a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves:

Arrington, 28, has spent the last five seasons with New England after joining the Patriots’ practice squad on Sept. 21, 2009. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder, was signed to the New England 53-man roster from the practice squad on Nov. 8, 2009. Arrington originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Philadelphia out of Hofstra in 2008. He began the 2008 season on the Philadelphia practice squad before finishing the season on the Tampa Bay practice squad. Arrington began the 2009 season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad but was signed to the 53-man roster prior to the Buccaneers‘ season-opener against Dallas. He made his NFL debut against the Cowboys on special teams. Arrington was waived by Tampa Bay on Sept. 14 and joined the New England practice squad on Sept. 21.

Arrington has played in 87 NFL games with 56 starts and has 310 total tackles, nine interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, 48 passes defensed and 63 special teams tackles. In 2011, he tied Charles Woodson and Eric Weddle for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. Last season, Arrington played in 14 games with four starts and finished with 33 total tackles, 1 sack, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and seven special teams tackles. In addition, he returned a fumble on a kickoff 9 yards for a touchdown in the win vs. Cincinnati on Oct. 5, 2014 and returned a blocked field goal 62 yards for a touchdown in the win vs. Miami on Dec. 14, 2014.

Davis, 29, is a veteran of six NFL seasons (2008-13) with the Washington Redskins after entering the NFL as a second-round draft pick (48th overall) out of USC in the 2008 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 247-pounder, has played in 72 NFL games with 43 starts and has 162 receptions for 2,043 yards with 13 touchdowns. His best statistical season was in 2011 when he caught 59 passes for 796 yards with three touchdowns.

Hughes, 26, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the St. Louis Rams on July 29, 2011 out of Southeastern Louisiana. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder, began his rookie season on the Rams’ practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster on Nov. 19, 2011. He played in three games that season as a reserve on the offensive line. Hughes was released by St. Louis on Aug. 27, 2012 before being signed to the San Diego practice squad on Nov. 21, 2012. He then signed with Green Bay on Feb. 1, 2013 but was released on Aug. 31, 2013. Hughes signed with Carolina on Feb. 4, 2015 but was released on March 10, 2015.

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CB Kyle Arrington thanks Patriots for ‘incredible opportunity’ at 11:39 am ET
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In the wake of the report Monday morning that said he was going to be released by the Patriots, cornerback Kyle Arrington took to Instagram to make an announcement.

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Patriots set to release CB Kyle Arrington at 10:46 am ET
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The Patriots have informed cornerback Kyle Arrington that he will be released, according to a league source.

The veteran, who was acquired by the team in 2009, has served as New England’s primary slot corner over the last few seasons. The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder had his best season with the Patriots in 2011, when he finished the year with seven picks and 66 tackles. In his six seasons with New England, he had nine interceptions and 291 tackles.

While there is a chance that Arrington could return at a reduced rate, the move continues an offseason of change at the cornerback spot for the Patriots, who have already seen starters Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner leave in free agency, as well as the release of veteran Alfonzo Dennard.

The news was first reported by Mike Reiss of ESPN.

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After Alfonzo Dennard reportedly expected to be released, resetting Patriots depth chart at cornerback 05.05.15 at 1:10 pm ET
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Logan Ryan is one member of the secondary who will be asked to step up in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Logan Ryan is one member of the secondary who will be asked to step up in 2015. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

This offseason for the Patriots, no position has undergone more upheaval than cornerback. New England has seen Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner depart as free agents, and it has added veteran free agents like Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Chimdi Chekwa.

More change took place on Tuesday, as the Patriots are expected to cut loose Alfonzo Dennard. A seventh-round pick out of Nebraska because of character issues — he was reportedly involved in a fight with a police officer shortly before the 2012 draft. The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder had plenty of positive moments over his first year-plus in New England, starting 16 games in his first two seasons with the club and coming away with four picks and 19 passed defensed in that time.

But he fell off the radar screen toward the end of the 2013 season. Part of it was due to injury issues, as a nagging shoulder problem continued to persist. In addition, he was pushed down the depth chart prior to the 2014 season when the Patriots picked up Revis and Browner in free agency. After a year where he barely saw the field — Pro Football Focus had him for just 241 snaps in 2014 — he was reportedly cut loose on Tuesday.

So where does that leave the New England cornerback situation? Here’s a quick look at the position at this point in the offseason:

Malcolm Butler: While he doesn’t figure to be a starter right out of the gate, the Super Bowl hero will likely play a greater role in 2015 than he did as a rookie last year.

Logan Ryan: Like Butler, it figures to be a big year for the Rutgers product, who will likely be asked to step into a full-time starters’ role for the first time in his professional career. He’s already spent a sizable amount of the offseason working with Will Sullivan, who thinks Ryan could be on the verge of a breakout year.

Kyle Arrington: The slot corner figures to be back in that capacity as the 2015 starter in New England’s base defense.

Bradley Fletcher: Fletcher and Robert McClain are the two newcomers who the Patriots are looking toward for contributions this season. The 6-foot, 200-pound Fletcher, who was a lightning rod in Philly last season, was released by the Eagles and picked up by New England this offseason. The 28-year-old has spent six years in the NFL, and has eight picks and 58 passes defensed.

Robert McClain: The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder is going into his sixth season in the NFL, and has three picks and 21 passes defensed. The former seventh-round pick of the Panthers has had an up-and-down career — he was a key part of an Atlanta secondary that helped the Falcons get all the way to the 2012 NFC title game. But has been relatively uneven since then, although that could have been a part of some overall roster dysfunction in Atlanta.

Chimdi Chekwa: The former Raider inked a new deal with the Patriots this offseason. The 6-foot, 190-pounder out of Ohio State was likely added as a depth signing at corner — his real strength appears to be special teams.

Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean: We’ll lump the two rookies in together, at least for now. Roberts was a seventh-round pick who put up eye-popping numbers at Marshall’s pro day, including an impressive 3-cone time. Meanwhile, Jean is a bigger corner who might end up making the switch to safety at the NFL level.

Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Bradley Fletcher, Chimdi Chekwa, Darryl Roberts



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