Cornerback pair await Dowling return

ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- For all but two games last season, the Patriots were without the 33rd overall pick of the 2011 draft, cornerback Ras-I Dowling. In his absence, Kyle Arrington stepped into the starting lineup and finished with seven interceptions on the season, tied for the most in the NFL.

This spring, Arrington and third-year cornerback Devin McCourty are excited to have Dowling back in the mix at the position.

"It will bring a smile to all our faces seeing him back out there," McCourty said. "He's been working extremely hard all offseason just getting back out on the field, so I'm excited just to see him get back out there."

"High-character guy in the locker room," Arrington said of Dowling. "He's physical; he brings a physical element to our secondary. You can't teach height. He's tall. He gets those arms on you. Definitely looking forward to seeing what he can do."

Arrington and McCourty were celebrity judges for a chicken wing contest between local restaurants, part of the third annual Wing Fling held by the Fraternal Order of Police Bay State Lodge No. 30 at the Attleboro, Mass. Elks club. According to event organizer and Attleboro police officer Richard Berube, about 700 people attended the event, which raised about several thousand dollars for police officers injured in the line of duty and their families in each of its first two years.

Having married last month, Arrington shared a laugh at the event with his close friend McCourty, who joked that he now has to get permission from Arrington's wife before hanging out with his teammate.

McCourty, who was limited by a shoulder injury in the second half of last season, said the injury did not require surgery and that he has been "able to go about the offseason regularly."

With the NFL schedule for this season released earlier this week, McCourty said he is most excited to face his twin brother, Jason, a cornerback for the Titans, in the regular season opener.

"It'll be interesting. He's already trying to mess with my psyche. Hopefully he'll be ready to go," McCourty said. "We love to compete against each other, and hopefully a couple times we get out there on the field and have action on the field at the same time."