With the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league every year, it is important for teams to have as many capable cornerbacks as possible to be successful on defense.
The Patriots didn’t have that on hand last season, as evidenced by Julian Edelman pulling double-duty. They feel like they are closer to where they want to be this season, though, with Ras-I Dowling returning from injury to join Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty.
Having those corners and putting them in position to succeed are different matters, however. We learned that lesson watching the Eagles last season with Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel struggling to co-exist in the secondary. According to Arrington, that won’t be a problem in New England because he’s happy to play in the slot while Dowling takes over on the outside.
“When you’re in the slot, you have to be able to identify to go anywhere,” Arrington said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “So you’ve really got to understand where your help is on the field intensively. The discipline level has to be higher at that position. You have to see things quicker. I like being where the action is.”
Dowling’s size makes him a better fit on the outside, but this whole setup could go up in smoke if Dowling can’t stay healthy. He had injury problems in college and played just two games as a rookie before a hip injury ended his season. That’s probably why the Patriots have been giving Arrington plenty of time at right cornerback this spring as they try to build a better defensive backfield than they had last season.