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Arrington had his role covered in Indy

Veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington once again proved his value to the Patriots defense with his impressive work against T.Y. Hilton and the Colts.


As is the case with so many Patriots players, Kyle Arrington's role over his years in New England has been a fluid one.

He joined the team in 2009 as a practice squader and then key special teams contributor.

Soon he ascended up the defensive depth chart to start 14 games in 2010, the first of four straight years in which he'd play all 16 games. He started 54 of those 64 contests.

Arrington tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions in 2011.

But with the offseason free agent additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, it was clear that Arrington's role might change and even be reduced in 2014.

Through the first nine games this season, Arrington notched just a single start. That came in the pre-bye win over the Broncos, when the now sixth-year veteran out of Hofstra logged a season-high 53 defensive snaps.

And though Arrington had played less than 50 percent of New England's defensive snaps in five of the first nine games of the season, including just a single rep on defense in Week 7 against the Jets, the hard-working, no-nonsense cornerback was a key part of the Patriots defensive game plan and success in Sunday night's 42-20 win over the Colts.

New England threw a variety of schemes and bodies at Andrew Luck and his diverse weapons in the back end. But the bulk of those looks involved Arrington matching up with Colts leading receiver T.Y. Hilton.

The third-year playmaker entered the big AFC battle with 56 receptions for 937 yards and three touchdowns. His 16.7-yard average was best among the top 17 pass catchers in the NFL.

But with Arrington mirroring much of Hilton's work at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night, the speedy young threat tallied just three receptions for 24 yard with a long catch of 13 yards.

It was one of the many successful game-plan wrinkles and matchups the Patriots coaching staff deployed to come away with the big road win.

"I don't know if it's so much that one guy is the perfect guy to cover somebody, it's just when you look at your team and you look at their team and you try to figure out what's the best way for us to play this team, particularly in man-to-man situations, you try to do it in a way that you feel like gives you the best chance," New England head coach Bill Belichick said of the decision to use Arrington against Hilton. "That covers a lot of things: who the players are, where they line up and what skills they have and kind of, also, where our help would be on the majority of our plays. Those are all factors. You have to combine them all and try to figure it out."

The coaches clearly figured that Arrington could handle Hilton and the veteran cover man proved them right.

It's the type of role the respected, durable, under-the-radar defender has earned in his six seasons in New England as a productive option for Belichick to turn to.

"Kyle's done a good job for us. He's very athletic and physical and a good tackler," Belichick continued. "Those are some of things that Kyle does well and very dependably. He can run, he can tackle. He's a physical player."

And he proved yet again that regardless of his role or previous playing time, he's ready for whatever the coaches have in store for him on any given week.

Against Hilton and the Colts Arrington's role was to shut down the opponents top receiver and help New England to a big road victory.

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