Looking deeper at Ocho's role

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
9:25
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Veteran receiver Chad Ochocinco's role with the Patriots comes under the microscope again tonight with news that he won't play Sunday against the Eagles.

Everything Ochocinco-related seems to come with a buzz, but this is a case where it really isn't a major blow to the Patriots' offense. Because the Patriots run the majority of their plays out of a two tight end set, and with Ochocinco unable to leap over Wes Welker and Deion Branch on the receiver depth chart, he has played sparingly this season (11 catches on 23 targets).

Here is the breakdown (from most recent game to the start of the season):

Chiefs: 11 snaps
Jets: 16
Giants: 18
Steelers: 11
Cowboys: 7
Jets: 32
Raiders: 18
Bills: 60
Chargers: 17
Dolphins: 18

The big spike against the Bills in Week 3 came with tight end Aaron Hernandez out, and the Patriots switching to more of a three-receiver attack. That was the game Ochocinco dropped the long pass from Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter, costing the Patriots valuable time in their comeback attempt.

This week, the Patriots shouldn't have a hard time distributing Ochocinco's snaps to the likes of Taylor Price, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater in some form.

One area to watch, however, is if Deion Branch's own hamstring/hip issue sidelines him for an extended period of time. When Branch missed a series Monday against the Chiefs, the Patriots first turned to Ochocinco in two-receiver sets.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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