September 2, 2012 is a day marked on the mental calendars of every NFL player. It's the final day of judgement where rosters are shed to just 53 names. Guys looking to hang on with their teams often end up packing their bags and returning their playbooks.
As an undrafted free agent out of Hofstra—where the football program no longer exists—Arrington has forged himself into the pros. However, the journey hasn't been easy for the 25-year-old.
Signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in April of 2008, Arrington was cut prior to the regular season and joined the Eagles' practice squad. He was released after just one month.
The next stop for Arrington was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he manned the practice squad until September 2009. It was with the Bucs that Arrington saw his first game action, appearing in one contest.
His time on Tampa Bay's active roster was short-lived, as Arrington was released soon after premiering in his first regular-season game. Yet being waived by the Buccaneers was a blessing in disguise for the defensive back.
The Patriots gave him a call just weeks into the 2009 season, and Arrington made the opportunity count. Working his way up from New England's practice squad, the Accokeek, Md. native was inked to the 53-man roster that November and hasn't looked back since.
Starting out as a special teams player with the Pats, Arrington is now an important part of the New England secondary. Notching 28 starts over the past two seasons, he's totaled 159 tackles and eight interceptions.
In 2011, Arrington's seven picks tied him with the likes of Eric Weddle and Charles Woodson for most in the league. Not bad company for a player whose been waived four times during his five-year career.
Nonetheless, his success hasn't come without flaws. All the throws he's capitalized on have been overshadowed by his inconsistent coverage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Arrington conceded a stellar 36.25 yards per game through the first eight games of last season. Unfortunately, he followed that up by allowing an average of 79 yards to wideouts over the last eight games.
Heading into 2012, the veteran corner must prove that the big plays he made last year weren't a fluke, and that the big plays he allowed were.
As a result of the Patriots' defense ranking 31st in pass yards, Arrington will have some company at cornerback. Aside from former first-round draft pick Devin McCourty, Arrington's competition includes second-year men Ras-I Dowling and Sterling Moore, as well as rookie Alfonzo Dennard. These young talents will either make Arrington better, or make him expendable.
After all Arrington has been through, there's reason to believe he will come back even stronger this season. He's no stranger to the roster bubble, but he's no longer at the bottom of the totem pole, either.
In fact, Matt Miller—Bleacher Report's NFL draft lead writer—finds Arrington to be 33rd-best cornerback in the NFL. Miller assessed the 5'10", 195-pound DB:
The Patriots found a ball hawk in Kyle Arrington. The youngster did a great job attacking the ball in 2011. But like most of the New England secondary, he fell victim to too many big plays. Arrington must do a better job keeping the ball in front of him.
Because of the long and winding road Arrington has endured, it's impossible to count him out as a factor on the Patriots' defense in 2012. Learning from failure has helped Arrington become a starting-caliber corner, and that should continue this fall.