Kyle Arrington’s progression from the Patriots practice squad to becoming one of the most respected slot cornerbacks in the league was aided by daily battles with Wes Welker.

Now, even though Arrington won’t feed the hype machine, the two are set to square off in a marquee matchup before a national television audience.

On a broad scale, tomorrow night’s showdown between the Patriots and Broncos is billed as Brady-Manning XIV, or maybe even a potential preview for January’s AFC Championship Game. But the subplots don’t get any better than Welker’s return, which will mark his first game wearing a road uniform at Gillette Stadium since it still had grass.

And in turn, the most logical player to draw the Welker assignment would be Arrington, who signed a four-year, $16 million contract this offseason to make him one of the highest-paid slot cornerbacks in the NFL. Arrington won’t get sole ownership of the Welker responsibilities, but the dose will be heavy enough.

“Obviously, Wes is one of the best in the game, if not the best, in the slot,” Arrington said. “There’s some familiarity there, which is beneficial for us, and the same on his part. He knows some of our calls, some of our coverages, things of that nature. We’re going to try our best to throw different looks at him.”

The split between Welker and the Patriots was as dramatic as it gets in the NFL, and there will certainly be an element of pride as the Pats attempt to shut down the franchise’s all-time receptions leader. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see Aqib Talib draw some time in the slot, too.

More than anything, the Patriots aren’t going to show Peyton Manning the same coverages, whether player-on-player or play-by-play. Any solitary confinement on Welker over time will get exposed.

That’s partly why Arrington downplayed the assignment when it was addressed as potentially the marquee one-on-one matchup of his season.