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Thursday, October 20, 2011
Hot Button: Can Ocho be salvaged?

By ESPNBoston.com

Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco arrived at the bye week with a mere nine catches for 136 yards through six games, making him maybe the most underachieving player on New England's 5-1 roster. But is his season salvageable? That's the question Trey Wingo, Eric Mangini, and Jerry Rice batted around in this week's Hot Button topic.



Both Rice and Mangini believe there's still plenty of time for Ochocinco to make things right. Rice even went so far as to note that a solid playoff performance could make everyone forget a slow start to his New England career. Rice's worry? New England has so many weapons, it's going to be hard for Ochocinco to carve out an impact role.

Mangini noted that the recent trade of Carson Palmer sent him digging through his old game plans against the Cincinnati Bengals and said that the No. 1 focus for his teams was always taking away Ochocinco. Mangini thinks he can still be that sort of explosive player and, if nothing else, draws plenty of attention from defenses when he's on the field. Mangini noted that players develop at different rates, but once it clicks for Ochocinco, it could pay dividends for New England.

Salvageable or not, ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg made the case on Monday that Ochocinco's lack of production is no big deal considering he's essentially the fifth receiver in the Patriots' offense, noting that Ochocinco's performance thus far is practically on pace with that of last year's No. 3 receiver in Brandon Tate (138 yards on 12 catches in his first six games). It's Ochocinco's contract status -- and status updates -- that thrust him into a larger spotlight.

[Your turn: Can Ochocinco turn things around in New England? Vote in our poll above, then sound off in the comments.]