Kraft praises Ochocinco, Haynesworth

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While unveiling the pristine Putnam Club before Tuesday night's New England Patriots Charitable Foundation Gala at Gillette Stadium, team owner Robert Kraft paused at an autographed jersey of Chad Ochocinco set to be auctioned off and smiled.

"I’ll tell you, both [Ochocinco] and Albert Haynesworth are a lot different, in my opinion, than the media has portrayed them," said Kraft. "[Ochocinco is] very self-contained, he works very hard, [and] I know he wants to do well. He and Brady seem to have a great rapport.

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

Robert Kraft addresses the media Tuesday at the Putnam Club."Albert Haynesworth has been a gentleman. I don’t know if you’ve heard him speak, he’s not that image that the [media] presents. I mean I hope he is during the games, but everything I’ve from seen, he’s a very likable fellow. I hope both of them make great contributions, but we have a lot of great young players that we’ve developed on this team."

Kraft singled out safety Patrick Chung while discussing younger players he felt could have a big impact on the team this year. And after a summer spent locked out, Kraft expressed great excitement about the upcoming season, particularly given the early returns from his football team -- even after Saturday's lopsided loss in Detroit.

"There hasn’t been a season that I’ve been more excited about, I’m happy football is back," Kraft said. "I can tell you that I happened to be in the locker room [Tuesday] ... [the players had] just had come from practice, they are excited about the season, really excited. We think we have a great team and once the game begins, we’ll really know.

"It’s the preseason, so I’ve learned [to temper expectations]. What was it, [2008], when the Detroit Lions went 4-0 and looked great, then went 0-16? So I’m going to try to wait until the regular season starts. In fairness, and believe me, I can understand how people wouldn’t be happy with the effort [Saturday] night [vs. Detroit], I know I wasn’t with every part of the game, [but] the same kind of game planning doesn't go on to attack the other team’s weaknesses. It’s a more fluid situation. I think we’ll know better come Sept. 12 what kind of team we’ll watch, after the first three or four games, then we’ll get an idea of what kind of team we have. Until then, it’s all speculation, which is fine."

Kraft also talked about the power outages at Gillette Stadium that caused some uncertainty about both Tuesday's gala and Thursday's exhibition finale against the New York Giants, but he is hopeful things will proceed as planned after power returned at the stadium late Monday (though much of the region remains without power).

In a lighter moment, Kraft noted how he plans to serve as an advisor for his grandson's fantasy football team this season. When Putnam Investment president and CEO Robert Reynolds quipped that Kraft's team was comprised of all Patriots, Kraft smiled and said, "You're right about that."