Thursday, August 18, 2011
Ochocinco: Not up to speed yet
By Mike Reiss
TAMPA -- Receiver Chad Ochocinco's debut performance with the Patriots was a mixed bag.
Playing throughout the first half, he finished with two catches for 14 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' victory over the Buccaneers. He had two passes sail through his hands, the first of which came after it looked like he stopped running his route across the middle, the second along the sideline.
Ochocinco was hard on himself after the game.
"It felt good finally getting out there. I'm behind the 8-ball tremendously, though," he said. "It's different from practicing, being in the game. I have to get the game tempo. It felt good for us to start. I finally get a feel for it on the tempo, the way Tom [Brady] operates. Everybody is like a machine out there and I'm that one part that isn't up to speed with everybody else."
Ochocinco caught an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, which came after two incompletions -- one in which he took a big hit from linebacker Mason Foster that was penalized 15 yards (personal foul). On that play, Ochocinco came across the middle, stopped briefly, and then continued his route. It looked like a disconnect between him and Brady.
Indeed, Ochocinco said he's still searching for his comfort zone and feels he has a long way to go.
Asked about finding his comfort zone, he said, "It's like being married. As time goes on, you gel and you get comfortable with that person and offense and I'm just not comfortable yet. I want to hurry up and get that feeling to where I can somewhat be me. I got to get there now. I should have been there yesterday."
He also credited Brady with being the key to the Patriots' offense.
"Regardless of who is in the offense, for some reason it always works," he said.
After the touchdown catch, which came after a play-action fake, it was notable that Ochocinco simply placed the ball down. No big celebrations. "I play for Belichick now," he explained.
It was hard to miss Ochocinco's animated conversation with Belichick on the sideline early in the first quarter. It came after Belichick pulled him for two plays following Danny Woodhead's 29-yard run, and might have been a result of Belichick wanting to see more from Ochocinco as a blocker downfield.
"Just coaching, back and forth, which I like, which I need. I need people to stay in my ear," Ochocinco explained. "I need Tom Brady, I need all of them. I need them to stay in my ear constantly, especially in the preseason. The more info I can absorb and become a sponge and learn from those guys that have been here and understand the system, the more comfortable I get, the more relaxed I am, the better I play."