New England Patriots Cornerback Kyle Arrington responded to questions in his home state of Maryland last week and commented on the impending return of veteran Leigh Bodden, who topped the depth chart before the emergence of rookie phenom Devin McCourty.
Bodden signed a four-year, $22 million deal prior to the 2010 season after playing out a one-year "prove it" contract in 2009. In his first year he led the team with 17 passes defended and tied for the team lead with five interceptions.
His 2010 campaign ended even before the completion of the third preseason game when he sustained a torn rotator cuff against the St. Louis Rams.
“It was a run to my side, the tight end blocked me, I reached out with my left arm, it kinda got extended, then I fell on it, that was it,” Bodden explained.
The Patriots placed the then 28-year-old on the injured reserve and soldiered on with essentially no experience at the position. McCourty, along with Darius Butler, who was entering his second season, were thrust into starting roles.
Disaster was avoided, but only because the team had a surprising amount of depth in the secondary.
Buried on the depth chart at the beginning of the year was an undrafted free agent who had been searching for an opportunity since 2008. Arrington got that opportunity in week three, replacing the struggling Butler, and went on to post 71 tackles, an INT and a touchdown return in 14 games.
The 24-year-old is just two years removed from playing in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) for the now defunct Hofstra University football program, which officially ended it's program in 2009.
Arrington went from a special teams body in 2009 to a starting corner the very next year—and if he has anything to say about it, that's the role he'll hold in 2011.
"Competition, it's great competition," Arrington said when asked of his thoughts on Bodden's return.
"With Bill (Belichick), whoever is playing well that's who's going to play—there's no favoritism with him. It was a great learning experience for me last year."
With Bodden turning 30 in September, it's conceivable that Arrington could give him a run for his money this season.
The youngster has a ton of confidence and he's earned the right to compete for a starting job. As a New England Patriot he also understands he'll be afforded every opportunity to outplay the bigger named veteran.
More than two-thirds of Bleacher Report readers who responded to a poll of mine believe Arrington hasn't reached his ceiling yet and here's to hoping that remains the case. Competition at a position this team has historically been rather thin at can't be a bad thing anyway.
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