FOXBOROUGH — First-time father Kyle Arrington saw the resemblance right away.
Junior, now four months old, looked just like him.
“I knew that was my boy,” Arrington said. “But the changes you see day-to-day? It’s amazing. Now he’s even talking like his mother. Every parent probably goes through that, but it’s very new to me.”
It’s a year of many new beginnings for the Patriots cornerback.
Arrington also has a new house (“Needed a bigger space for when the grandparents visit from Maryland,” he said) and new contract (four years, $16 million).
Yet two things in his football life remain constant: Arrington’s expectations (get better every day) and the Patriots’ premium on versatility.
“Playing on this team, wherever the coaches are comfortable and confident enough to put you, you need to have confidence in yourself to play it,” he said.
Last season, New England’s secondary shuffled constantly. The Patriots utilized eight players at cornerback.
This year could bring more of the same.
Through three practices, Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard split time as the starting right corner. For now, there is no clear starter.
Dennard, arrested July 11 for suspicion of DUI, faces a probation hearing on Aug. 27. That could determine whether the NFL suspends the second-year cornerback under the personal conduct policy.
Arrington isn’t thinking about that.
“The goal I try to take is just to maximize the most out of each day,” he said. “Work on techniques and try to get better.”
Arrington started the first 10 games at right cornerback last season, and struggled at times. When the Patriots acquired Aqib Talib, Arrington shifted inside to the slot — his more natural position — and flourished.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Arrington was targeted 20 times from the slot, allowing 11 catches for 115 yards.
“I think I can play anywhere,” Arrington said. “That’s a big part of our defense.”
The secondary has been a primary concern over the past few seasons. They ranked 29th in pass defense last year.
Along with Arrington’s new contract, Talib signed a one-year deal. Ras-I Dowling and Marquice Cole return, as well.
“It’s always great to have continuity with a group,” Arrington said. “We are just trying to get better and better individually so therefore collectively we can do all right.”
“[We’re] good,” Talib said of the cornerbacks. “We laugh, we joke, we help each other in the classroom, on and off the field; [we’re] good.”
A welcome addition in the secondary is safety Adrian Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowler.
Arrington called Wilson “a high-character guy and tremendous teammate.”
“He’s also a man of his word,” Arrington said.
Arrington offered his No. 24 jersey to his new teammate. In exchange, Wilson promised a year’s worth of diapers for Arrington and wife VaShonda.
A few weeks ago, at about 5 p.m., a UPS truck pulled up to Arrington’s home.
“A huge ton of boxes,” Arrington said. “I already knew what it was for.”
Arrington said he and VaShonda have settled into the Boston area. They’re happy here.
Other teams pursued Arrington in free agency. He said he chose the Patriots “because of the love.”
“Teammates, coaches, fan support,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself wearing any other jersey.”
Undrafted from Hofstra University — the only school to offer him a scholarship — Arrington signed with the Eagles in 2008.
The night before training camp he “felt jitters.”
The first day seemed overwhelming. “Baptism by fire,” Arrington said, with a smile.
“You have offensive line and defensive line guys running 4.5s [in the 40 yard dash] out there,” he added. “You just don’t see that coming from the collegiate level.”
After jumping from practice squad to practice squad — Philadelphia to Tampa Bay to New England — the Patriots signed Arrington in 2009.
Arrington joined the Patriots in Week 9. He played in eight games, but recorded 16 special teams tackles, among the team leaders for the entire season.
Arrington has played in every game over the last three seasons, starting 40.
At 5 feet 10 inches and 196 pounds, Arrington is speedy. At practice Sunday, Arrington ran stride for stride with wide receiver Aaron Dobson to the end zone, then intercepted the ball.
The pass, underthrown, was from Tom Brady.
After signing this contract, which includes $8 million guaranteed, Arrington said he finally feels like a veteran.
He knows the playbook, he knows the faces around him.
Not everything feels so new.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkaplan.