Steadily, Ochocinco catches on
TAMPA - Chad Ochocinco wasn’t going anywhere as he listened to Bill Belichick run through a range of information on the sideline of Raymond James Stadium last night.
The receiver stood and listened, paying attention to every detail. After 10 seasons in the NFL, Ochocinco said he needs coaching now more than ever. The once-flashy receiver says he feels like he is starting over and he wasn’t satisfied with his preseason debut as a member of the Patriots last night.
Ochocinco caught two passes for 14 yards and one touchdown in the Patriots’ 31-14 victory over the Buccaneers. Instead of preparing a celebration dance for his first touchdown, he is thinking about terminology and the rhythm of the offense.
When Ochocinco was asked why he didn’t celebrate after scoring on an 8-yard completion in the first quarter, he said, “I play for Bill Belichick now.’’
So 22 days after the Bengals traded Ochocinco to the Patriots, bringing Ochocinco along in this offense requires he do more than just run a set route.
“I need Bill to stay in my ear and Tom Brady - all of them,’’ Ochocinco said. “I need them to stay in my ear constantly, especially in the preseason. The more information I can absorb, and become a sponge, and learn from those guys who have been here and understand the system, the more comfortable I get.
“The more relaxed I am, the better I play.’’
Brady looked in Ochocinco’s direction on the first play of the Patriots’ second drive, but linebacker Mason Foster jammed Ochocinco on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Ochocinco left the game, but came back a few plays later. Ochocinco ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown catch up the middle, after which he jogged to the sideline.
“It felt good for the start to finally get a feel for it and the tempo, the way Tom operates,’’ Ochocinco said. “It’s like a machine out there and I’m that one part that isn’t up to speed with everybody else.’’
Brady targeted Ochocinco three times in the first quarter and once early in the second quarter before the receiver was done for the night.
“It’s just [that] he’s really finding a role for himself,’’ Brady said. “He’s been practicing hard. He’s very competitive. It’s a good group that we have out there, so we just got to continue to build . . .
“We haven’t played in a long time, so it’s great for us to be out there.’’
As the process moves on for Ochocinco, he said he doesn’t feel frustrated, as that would be a waste of energy. But he said he feels like he has a long way to go before he will feel comfortable.
“It’s like being married. As time goes on you jell and you get comfortable with that person, with the offense, I’m just not comfortable yet,’’ he said. “I want to hurry up and get that feeling to where I can somewhat be me.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.