Kyle Arrington'sparents try to attend every game their son plays, despite making their home in far-away Maryland.
Ironically, the one they missed last week was his first NFL start.
"Yeah, they usually make the games," the Patriots cornerback explained, "but my mom had some business at home early Monday morning, so, it just wasn't worth – I don't want to say it wasn't worth it," he interrupted himself with a laugh, "but driving eight hours, plus traffic, you never know.
"[They're] definitely happy for me. My father was telling me, you know, hard work pays off. And it's true."
Arrington, who played collegiate football for the now-defunct Hofstra program, spent his first year in the NFL (2008) on the Philadelphia and Tampa Bay practice squads as an undrafted rookie free agent. When the Bucs cut him early last season, the Patriots came calling.
"All you really need is an opportunity. That's what the preseason's for … you're auditioning for other teams as well," Arrington continued. "The Patriots gave me a chance and I finally got on the field in regular season action and I proved what I could do. I'm just thankful."
Against Buffalo last week, Arrington was given the nod at right corner over Darius Butler, who admittedly has struggled in his second season, his first as a regular starter.
"I guess my play wasn't up to par," Butler acknowledged, "and that's obviously where I want to be. So I need to do whatever it takes to get back on that. It's a production business. If you don't produce… game day is when it counts. If it's not getting done on game day, you're not going to be out there. That's where I want to be, I'll do what it takes to get back out there."
In the meantime, it seems Arrington will have more opportunities to prove himself. The start was a confidence builder, he said, that he hopes to improve upon this week against another AFC East rival, the Miami Dolphins.
What has he seen of his next opponent?
"A lot of formations," Arrington replied. "They're in and out of a lot of personnel. They're the originators of the Wildcat, so, it's going to be a lot to prepare for."
As Arrington prepares for the Dolphins, his fellow cornerback, Terrence Wheatley, is simply working on getting back on the field. Out since August with a foot injury, Wheatley spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time in weeks – a sign, usually, that an injured player is on the verge of returning to action.
"I've been itching for a while to get back on the field," he said, adding, "It's not up to me. It's up the trainers and the coaching staff to feel comfortable enough to put me out there. Whenever that is, I'll be out there. Until then, I'm just taking it one day at a time, one step at a time. We'll just see when that is."
Now in his third season, the former second-round pick has missed significant time in each of his previous seasons due to various injuries. He insists, though, that while it's frustrating, he is able to maintain the proper perspective and an optimistic outlook on the situation.
He does that, in part, by spending the extra time he has away from the field exercising his mind.
"I'm just going to focus on the little small things, watch a lot of film, and when it's time to go play, play," Wheatley said.
Wed 9/29 Practice Notebook
For news and notes from Wednesday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.