NFL leader Arrington 'picks' up pace

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington leads the NFL with four interceptions, and his improved ball skills were a topic of discussion at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday.

“When I came back this year, instead of just putting my toe in the water, I was all in,” Arrington told reporters before practice.

Arrington credited an offseason regimen in Maryland with fellow NFL players Tim Hightower (Redskins) and Lawrence Sidbury (Falcons) as a contributing factor in his success. Coach Bill Belichick has noticed Arrington’s work paying off.

“Some of the things we talked to Kyle about at the end of the 2010 season, things that he needed to work on and areas he can improve, was playing the ball, handling the ball more,” Belichick said. “Obviously he’s done that. They’ve shown up from the beginning of training camp.”

Arrington got off to a quick start with an interception in the season-opener against the Dolphins, added two against the Bills on Sept. 25, then had Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo deliver one right between the 2 and 4 on his jersey on Sunday.

“It’s called taking advantage of opportunity when the ball hits your hand,” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said.

At the same time, Caserio credited Arrington’s consistency since arriving as a practice squad player in 2009. After entering the league as a rookie free agent out of Hofstra with the Eagles, Arrington now finds himself atop the league leaders.

It’s an underdog-overcomes-the-odds type of story.

“Who would’ve thunk it?” he said smiling, before heading to practice.