FOXBOROUGH - As Week 12 of the NFL season begins this morning, a Patriots player is alone atop the league standings for interceptions.
The undrafted cornerback out of Hofstra - which dropped football last year - was in the right place at the right time not once but twice last night in a 34-3 victory over the Chiefs, intercepting two passes from Tyler Palko that had been tipped.
Arrington has seven interceptions on the season.
“Kyle has been very opportunistic this year, being around the ball a lot,’’ coach Bill Belichick said. “When you’re around it and close to it, those are the kind of plays you make. I thought that Kyle and our safeties - Sterling [Moore] had a good hit on that first ‘slim post’ route and batted it up in the air [leading to Arrington’s first pick].
“The more times you have guys around the ball, the better your chances are of coming up with it.’’
Arrington came into the league as a free agent with the Eagles in 2008, but was on their practice squad for just a day in September; after he was cut, Tampa Bay picked him up for its practice squad, and he spent the rest of the season there.
He played in one game with the Bucs in 2009 before being released; he was signed by the Patriots to their practice squad, but when the Browns wanted to scoop up Arrington and add him to their roster, New England promoted the Maryland native to its 53-man roster. Playing in the final eight games with the Patriots in ’09, he had a team-high 17 special teams tackles.
He hasn’t missed a game since.
Rotation in place
The Patriots’ defense was in rotation mode again last night against the Chiefs, with several key players sidelined because of injuries.
Starting cornerback Devin McCourty (shoulder), safety Patrick Chung (foot), and linebackers Brandon Spikes (knee), Jeff Tarpinian (illness), and Dane Fletcher (thumb) were among the players declared inactive for the game.
McCourty suffered a separated right shoulder against the Jets when he and Moore collided while trying to take down receiver Plaxico Burress. McCourty missed nearly all of practice last week, returning on Saturday in a limited role; the Patriots declared him doubtful on the injury report, so his absence was not a surprise.
The fact that Chung and Tarpinian were out wasn’t as expected.
Cannon gets in
Rookie offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who was activated to the 53-man roster a week ago, played the first snaps of his career in the fourth quarter, entering at right tackle for Sebastian Vollmer.
The quiet big man was a bit emotional as he talked about his debut, which came nearly seven months to the day after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma.
“It was fun. I’ve got a really long way to go, though,’’ Cannon said.
He didn’t know that he’d be in uniform until he arrived at Gillette Stadium, so he wasn’t able to call his parents in Odessa, Texas, to share the news.
“It happened so fast. But they watch no matter what, just in case,’’ he said. “It was awesome.’’
Palko takes blame
Palko, who became the Chiefs’ starting quarterback when Matt Cassel suffered a season-ending hand injury in Week 10, made his first start and took full responsibility for his performance (three INTs, three sacks).
“Any time you turn the ball over in this league you don’t give yourself the chance to win the football game, especially against a good offense like that,’’ said Palko. “Three interceptions are inexcusable. I don’t care if they were tipped or whatnot; the ball left my hand and I’m accountable for the passes.’’
Palko was 25 of 38 for 236 yards. Kansas City punted on five of its 12 possessions and also turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter.
First for Vereen
Rookie running back Shane Vereen got his long-awaited first carry and also got his first career touchdown, taking the ball in from 4 yards for the Patriots’ final points.
“That was fun,’’ said the second-round pick out of California. “It was a good team win and I was able to get in there at the end and help the team out.’’
He said his touchdown was “worth the wait. You have to earn your keep around here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.’’
Vereen was hampered in training camp and throughout the season by a hamstring injury.
Wes Welker extended his reception streak to 88 games with a 6-yard catch with six minutes left in the game. He registered two catches for 22 yards, both season lows. His 71-game regular-season streak with the Patriots is a franchise record.
While Welker said he is aware of his streak, which dates to the 2005 season with the Dolphins, he didn’t lobby for a catch, he said.
“I know about it, but it’s not my emphasis every time I step out on the field,’’ Welker said. “I just go out there and try to catch balls and try to help the team win.’’
Light hurts ankle
Left tackle Matt Light left the stadium with his right ankle in a walking boot after getting rolled on by the Chiefs’ Tamba Hali during the second half. Rookie Nate Solder took over for Light . . . Right guard Brian Waters played against his former team of 11 years for the first time. It didn’t take long for him to get over the nostalgia. “It wasn’t until right before the game and then once I got to see everybody it became a little strange until we kicked it off,’’ Waters said. “Once we started hitting it was no more different than going against any other opponent.’’ . . . NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was at the game and told 98.5 The Sports Hub that he “still hasn’t given up’’ on the league and Players’ Association coming to an agreement that will allow HGH testing before the end of this season . . . New England once again promoted defensive back Ross Ventrone off the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Reserve offensive lineman Donald Thomas was released.Monique Walker of the Globe staff contributed. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.