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Sunday, October 16, 2011
Spotlight on Ochocinco's role

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran receiver Chad Ochocinco was a non-factor in the Patriots' thrilling 20-16 win over the Cowboys. He was charted on the field for just seven snaps and didn't have a catch.

As the Patriots head into their bye, Ochocinco's standing on the team figures to receive added attention.

Acquired for two draft choices and signed to a contract extension that includes a total of $6 million in pay this year -- more than any receiver on the roster -- he hasn't emerged as many projected. 

The Patriots played the majority of their snaps with two receivers and two tight ends against the Cowboys, attempting to quicken the pace for long stretches of the action. That meant Wes Welker and Deion Branch were the top receivers.

Ochocinco had one pass thrown his way, coming in the third quarter when quarterback Tom Brady fired toward the left sideline on a route that Ochocinco broke to the inside. Ochocinco played just one snap after that.

In terms of playing time this season, Ochocinco is third among Patriots receivers and offers insurance in the event of injuries to Welker or Branch. But based on some of the struggles he's had getting on the same page as Brady, it seems fair to ask how good that insurance policy is for the offense.

Second-year receiver Taylor Price was integrated into the mix briefly on Sunday, coming on to the field on the second series for his only play of the day, and perhaps he'll see more opportunities in the coming weeks.