Commentary

Butler, Arrington both find roles on D

Updated: November 21, 2010, 11:53 PM ET
By Mike Rodak | Special to ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In Week 2, New England Patriots cornerback Darius Butler struggled in coverage against the New York Jets and was replaced late in the game by third-year cornerback Kyle Arrington.

On Sunday against the Colts, Arrington allowed a second-quarter touchdown catch by receiver Reggie Wayne. After the play, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was seen talking to Arrington on the sidelines.

[+] EnlargeDarius Butler
AP Photo/Michael DwyerDarius Butler replaced Kyle Arrington at right cornerback in the second half and saw his most significant action in eight games.

When the Patriots' defense opened the second half, Butler was on the field getting his most significant action in more than eight games.

"I had to get comfortable with the calls and the information from the safeties, but after that it was just like practice," Butler said.

Even after being replaced by Butler at right cornerback, Arrington was able to stay on the field in an unlikely role: as an edge pass-rusher in the Patriots' dime package.

"I wish I could have had a couple plays back in the second quarter, with Wayne making a couple great plays," Arrington said. "I was just anxious when they called my number to try and get a sack or be a disruptive force if I could. It didn't really surprise me when they called my number. When Bill [Belichick] practices it and puts it in the game plan, you don't forget."

It was something Arrington said would be an added wrinkle to the Patriots' third-down defense, "depending on how the game unfolded." He joked that it was the first time since "Boys & Girls Club" he had played in a defensive end-type role.

"I think the coaches liked what they saw [when] we did a drill one day in training camp, with the defensive backs against the running backs," Arrington said. "I guess I put on a good enough show for them to incorporate it into a game plan. The coach is very confident in my ability to rush the quarterback and get to the quarterback."

On Friday, Belichick talked about how it could be beneficial to use separate game plans when facing Manning and the Colts.

"I think you could definitely say, 'OK, in the first half we're going to do a little more of this [and] in the second half we're going to do a little more of that,'" Belichick said. "There's some parts that I'm sure would have to transcend, but I think you could definitely do that -- change the emphasis or the look."

On Sunday, the beginning of the second half signaled a switch by the Patriots' defense from a 4-2-5 nickel package to a 3-2-6 dime scheme, which involved Arrington as an edge rusher.

Arrington wasn't able to sack the quick-throwing Manning, but he said he still felt he was effective in his first taste as a pass-rusher.

"This week we tried to get as much pressure on Peyton as possible and, if not sack him, force him into a bad throw or two," Arrington said. "I had a few opportunities. I got close to Peyton a couple of times. [But] in the trenches it's very different.

"I definitely have a whole new appreciation for the [defensive] line and what those guys go through in the trenches," he said. "It was a battle."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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