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Patriots notebook

He’s in zone coverage

Arrington kept plugging away

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 5, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS - Kyle Arrington was asked the question, then asked for a moment to consider his answer, claiming he’s never thought of it before.

Does the Patriots cornerback ever marvel at the rags-to-riches story of players such as himself and teammate Sterling Moore, guys who were undrafted, released by other clubs, then signed by New England, where each has made impact plays?

The 25-year-old looked up and touched his beard.

“You know what? That’s one hell of a story, now that I think about it,’’ he said. “We’re just out there playing football games, trying to win games, and we don’t want to - we’re not selling ourselves short. It doesn’t matter what school you went to, you’re still not going to sell yourself short.’’

Arrington went to Hofstra, which dropped its football program two years ago because of a lack of interest. He was briefly a member of the Eagles as a rookie in 2008, before being picked up by the Buccaneers. After a year on Tampa Bay’s practice squad and one regular-season game, he was on the street again, which is when the Patriots signed him to their practice squad.

But when the Browns tried to pick up Arrington for their 53-man roster midway through the 2009 season, New England was forced to promote Arrington or lose him.

The Maryland native, who grew up a diehard Redskins fan, rewarded the Patriots, leading the team in special-teams tackles with 17 despite playing just eight games.

Last year, Arrington began the season as a backup but became a starter just three weeks in when Darius Butler was benched after a poor performance against the Jets. He’s remained there since.

From those obscure beginnings to this: Arrington tied for the league lead in interceptions with seven.

“It’s been a hell of a year, huh?’’ Arrington said with a chuckle. “It’s a blessing.’’

Arrington is slated to be married next month.

The possibility of two rings in two months? What a year indeed.

Fast forward

It sometimes comes at a physical price (think out-of-breath linemen), but when the Patriots execute their no-huddle offense, it can create problems for a defense, so don’t be surprised if they use it tonight.

When the no-huddle works, it’s difficult or nearly impossible for a defense to make substitutions, potentially keeping key personnel off the field. Fatigue also becomes a factor.

“It’s been a change of pace for us,’’ coach Bill Belichick said. “I think it forces the defenses to play at a different tempo where they can’t fall into a natural rhythm. They have to be ready for things to speed up, be ready for things to slow down, and have different personnel groups.

“It just puts a little more stress on our defensive opponents to prepare for more things, more personnel groups, faster pace, change of formation, communication, things like that. If we can do it better than they can, it’s an advantage.’’

Belichick said the Patriots used it sporadically against the Giants when the teams met in the regular season, with varying success in a 24-20 loss.

Family time

The Patriots spent roughly 90 minutes taking team photos and pictures with friends and family, rather than take part in a walkthrough yesterday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It really is [good to see players enjoy the day],’’ Belichick told the AFC pool reporter. “These guys have worked hard, they’ve earned this trip. We know we’re here for a job but it’s also a fun thing to be part of this game so it’s fun to be seeing them enjoying it. This is what we all work for - to be here. You want to be here, you want to enjoy it. There’s a job to do but you want to be able to enjoy the trip.’’

Tight end Rob Gronkowski showed no trace of a limp for the 75 minutes he was posing for pictures and walking around the field. His injured left ankle has been one of the most talked-about topics all week.

“I think he’s doing better,’’ Belichick said of Gronkowski, who is listed as questionable for tonight’s game.

Other details from the session: 70 players took part in the pictures, including the eight practice-squad players and nine who are on injured reserve; Julian Edelman posed with the receivers and defensive backs; the Patriots spent last night in the same hotel on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus they spent the rest of the week.

Power-packed speech

Before the Patriots played Denver in the divisional round, Belichick gave a speech that left an impression on at least one player. “It was remarkable,’’ said defensive end Mark Anderson. It was pregame on Friday night. He just gave a remarkable speech that really touched a lot of guys. Bill basically went through each player and told them the reason why he brought us here. It was a powerful speech; everybody really took it to heart and you could tell by how we played.’’ New England scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and rolled to a 45-10 win . . . The Patriots promoted rookie defensive end Alex Silvestro off the practice squad. Silvestro, a 6-foot-3-inch, 267 pound undrafted free agent out of Rutgers, was also promoted before the Week 15 game against Miami. Receiver Tiquan Underwood was released to make room on the 53-man roster.

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