|Kyle Arrington credits Jamie Collins for his blocked field goal return for touchdown: ‘He’s a freak athlete’||12.17.14 at 5:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It was a bittersweet game last Sunday for Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington.
The sixth-year cornerback returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in the opening minutes of the game — his fourth career touchdown — but then later left the game with a hamstring injury. Arrington said leaving the game was frustrating.
“I’d say so,” said Arrington. “You always want to be out there with your guys. This is what we do for each other. We’re a very close group, not just the defense — offense, defense, special teams in the locker room all 61, including the practice squad. To not be able to finish it’s a little frustrating. Unfortunately it’s part of the game.”
Although he didn’t return to the game, and was limited in practice on Wednesday, he is talking like the injury isn’t a huge issue.
“I guess that is a question for Bill [Belichick] and Jim [Whalen] (head athletic trainer) and our trainers. I don’t know. I guess I feel as good as you look,” he joked.
Although Arrington raced 62 yards for a touchdown, he gives all the credit to Jamie Collins, the guy who blocked the 41-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal attempt. It was was the third blocked field goal of the season for the Patriots, which ties a franchise record.
“To be honest, I was just the fortunate recipient of an outstanding block by Jamie [Collins],” Arrington said. “I mean you put that guy anywhere on the field, he could probably block it anywhere. He’s a freak athlete and I am glad we have a guy like that on our team.”
Arrington celebrated the score in style by doing a flip into the end zone, which got some good-natured teasing from his teammates when watching the film following the game.
“I’m thinking of trademarking that, I don’t know,” Arrington said. “I’m going on YouTube for some things and see where I can improve. Do a couple of somersaults here and there. I might go in front and sideways at the same time next time, I don’t know we’ll see.”
As a cornerback, it’s not a sure-thing to find the end zone another time.
“Wishful thinking, more wishful thinking,” he laughed.
|Special teams continue to be a ‘difference maker’ in another Patriots win||12.14.14 at 10:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Once again, special teams matter.
As has been the case in many games this season, including twice in as many weeks, special teams have played a major factor in a Patriots win.
Last Sunday in San Diego, Brandon Bolden blocked a punt and punter Ryan Allen had a terrific day to earn AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. This week it was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown to set the tone in the Patriots’ 41-13 win over the Dolphins to clinch their sixth straight AFC East title.
After the Dolphins drove down the field on their opening drive, but then stalled, Caleb Sturgis came on for a 43-yard field goal attempt. The athletic Jamie Collins was able to block the kick and Kyle Arrington alertly scooped up the loose ball and ran it 62 yards for a Patriots touchdown.
“It was a good — that’s kind of what the outside guys are looking for,” coach Bill Belichick said of the play. “They’re looking for a block to put themselves in a position, which he did, to be able to attack the ball. That’s the kind of situation where there really aren’t too many guys on the other side of the ball that can tackle or are very good tacklers. If you can just get it up and get going ‘ a bunch of offensive linemen, a couple specialists. Kyle is a fast guy. Once he got a little bit of space, I don’t think there are too many guys who can run him down. But it was a good — he did his job. He was in position and took advantage of the opportunity and turned it into points. It was a heads up play.”
It was the third blocked field goal of the season for the Patriots, which ties a franchise record. Chandler Jones had one in Week 2 against the Vikings, and Chris Jones had one in the closing seconds of Week 7’s game against the Jets. Overall, the Patriots have blocked four kicks this season, including three field goals and a blocked punt. The four blocked kicks are the most for the Patriots since 2002.
The touchdown wasn’t the only special teams accomplishment in the win, as kicker Stephen Gostkowski became the Patriots’ all-time leader scorer in the game. With five extra points and two field goals, the kicker now has 1,165 points, which passes Adam Vinatieri‘s 1,165 for the franchise lead.
|Kyle Arrington on MFB: ‘We have our work cut out for us’ against talented Chargers receivers||12.05.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
The New England secondary was tested early and often during this past Sunday’s matchup against the Green Bay receiving corps. This week’s game will provide the Patriots with another challenge, as the Chargers have a formidable collection of wideouts.
“They never make it easy for us,” Arrington said. “It’s another great group we’re facing … they’ve got great receivers. Obviously, Antonio Gates at the tight end position. [Michael] Floyd, [Keenan] Allen, [Eddie] Royal, those are great at what they do as well. We have our work cut out for us.”
Directly after Sunday’s loss in Green Bay, the Patriots traveled to San Diego rather than heading back to Foxboro. The warm and sunny weather of California could provide the Patriots a bit of a distraction, but Arrington said the Patriots are a mature team that knows what’s at stake this week.
“We have a pretty professional group, so everybody knows at the end of the day that it’s a business trip,” Arrington said. “Guys are focused this week, practice has been, I think, going well. You know, we’re just getting prepared to play a football game.”
Philip Rivers has yet to win a Super Bowl, although he has put together some strong regular-season statistics. Over his last three games, the San Diego signal caller has thrown for a combined five touchdowns. Rivers’ consistency has been questioned, but Arrington, like others, has noted the quarterback’s toughness in the pocket.
Said Arrington: “He’s probably one of the more competitive guys you see on the field. Demonstratively speaking, he always expects a lot from himself, his teammates and you can just tell he has the fiery attitude. He just wants to win.”
The Chargers will be the fifth team in a row that Patriots will face that has a winning record. Good record or not, any team poses a threat to win, according to Arrington.
“I think this is a great stretch that we’re on,” Arrington said. “Definitely, any given Sunday, it doesn’t matter. You can throw all of the records out the window. Whoever plays the better ball that given day will ultimately probably is going to win that game. But we’re facing a lot of good teams on this stretch. Like you guys said, we’re a battle-tested team. We’re ready to compete week in and week out.”
|Tom Brady, Patriots focused on Bills: ‘As great as last week was, that’s over’||10.08.14 at 7:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As big of a win as Sunday’s 43-17 rout of the Bengals was, the Patriots have already put that behind them as they prepare for Sunday’s AFC East matchup against the Bills in Buffalo.
“Coach talked this morning — as great as last week was, that’s over and we’ve got to start putting it in this week, and we’ve done that the last couple days,” Tom Brady said.
As it stands now, the Patriots and Bills are tied for first place in the AFC East — both at 3-2 and the Bills coming off an emotional overtime win in Detroit last Sunday. The players are aware of the importance of the game and how what they did last Sunday night doesn’t matter now.
“You can’t get our head too big from the win. It was a big win, but you have to come back down to earth now and get ready for a division game on Sunday,” wide receiver Aaron Dobson said.
The Patriots know first-hand the nature of the NFL and how things can change from week-to-week. Just a week ago they were coming off of a blowout loss on Monday Night Football in Kansas City and needed to put that behind them to focus on Cincinnati. This week they are on the other end of the spectrum, but need to do the same in focusing on their next opponent.
“It’s week-to-week in this business,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “This past Monday we had a sour taste in our mouth and had to forget about it and move onto Cincinnati. As emotional and as big of a win it was Sunday night, we have to move on and forget about that as well. We have a big challenge ahead of us in Buffalo.”
|Mike Mayock: ‘Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league’||08.05.14 at 7:00 am ET|
In the wake of Monday’s joint practices between the Patriots and Redskins, NFL analyst Mike Mayock was impressed by several things he saw from New England. But first and foremost, it was backup quarterback Ryan Mallett who really opened his eyes.
Mayock said Mallett “popped” against the Redskins, and added that he “saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady.”
“This was a guy drafted in the third round out of Arkansas with first-round arm talent,” Mayock said of Mallett, who was taken with the 74th overall pick in the 2011 draft. “His issues were off the field. In the last three years, we haven’t heard a peep out of him.
“I was blown away today. I saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady. As the season progresses and we get closer to draft time and what the Patriots can and can’t do with him, I think they drafted [Jimmy] Garoppolo for a reason as an insurance policy. But trust me, Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league, and he popped today.’
Mayock also liked when he saw from the New England defense.
“Last year they were efficient; they were No. 26 in yards allowed, but No. 10 in points allowed — a much more important statistic. But they’re getting better and better,” he said. “Their linebacker group might be as good as anybody in football, but I think the most stark contrast are the corners. When you line up Brandon Browner on one side and Darrelle Revis on the other side, and then slide Kyle Arrington into the slot, they have more quality and depth than at any time in recent memory on the back end. That’s kind of been the problem they’ve had.
“So if you assume they’re going to score a lot of points on offense, I think we’re going to see the best Patriots defense that we’ve seen in recent memory.”
|Resetting Patriots depth chart in secondary||03.18.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
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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|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Cornerbacks||02.07.14 at 6:00 am ET|
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.