Ravens cornerback Kyle Arrington will be playing in his 100th NFL game on Sunday (including the playoffs), and he has faced Peyton Manning six times, so he already knows full well what to expect when the Ravens face the certain Hall of Famer to open the season.
"He’s as good as they come – so cerebral, studies the game and plays it the way it should be," Arrington said on Wednesday. "It’s definitely going to be a tough challenge for us.”
"It’s a chess match out there," he later added. "You give (Manning) one look, he’s going to check to a different play. Shoot ... It might be a double check. He might run the same play that he has called, and then our quarterback on our defense with Daryl (Smith) is out there doing the same thing. It’s going to be a good matchup.”
Arrington is considered one of the key defensive upgrades for the Ravens after the secondary struggled greatly last year because of injuries and ineffectiveness. The Ravens also signed safety Kendrick Lewis, who essentially replaced Darian Stewart. If Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith are both healthy -- which would be another major upgrade over last year -- they project to be the two starting cornerbacks, with Arrington serving in a nickel role.
Arrington, who was with the Patriots for the past six seasons, has nine career interceptions, including a league-best seven in 2011. The Ravens had just 11 interceptions last year, tied for the fewest in team history, and no defensive back had more than one. The Ravens stressed throughout training camp the importance of interceptions from the secondary, but in the four preseason games, the team's only interception came from linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Manning has faced the Ravens 10 times in the regular season. He is 8-2 in those games, with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. (And no, all 25 touchdowns didn't come during that opener two years ago in Denver, it just seemed that way.)
Arrington said facing Manning to open the season is "about as tough as it gets," but he is eager for his first game as a Raven.
"It’s not my first rodeo," he said. "You always get some butterflies that morning of. I guess it’s more angst than anything. I’m definitely ready to go out there and get that first hit under way. Then you know you’re back to playing football.”