Chad Ochocinco 'happy' to be with Pats
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If newly acquired Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is serious in pledging to talk less to the media this season, he gave reporters one last dose of his typical lighthearted antics Saturday.
During his introductory meeting with the media outside Gillette Stadium, Ochocinco joked about getting his "angel wings" from owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick; said he'd be a "chameleon" while adhering to the "Patriot Way;" dubbed quarterback Tom Brady "The Surgeon," and said he'd offer tight end Aaron Hernandez his Toyota Prius and leftover McDonald's coupons in exchange for giving him his familiar No. 85 jersey.
Then after a brief six-minute talk, Ochocinco had a request.
"Before we go, I don't know you guys, but can I get a group hug?" he asked, before giving a playful -- and sweaty -- squeeze to a few of the writers at the front of the pack.
"I'll always be me, it's been a part of my game," he said. "But there's a certain way that the Patriots do it. For me, I've always been a chameleon, so I'm going to stand in and do it the Patriot Way.
"I'm happy to be here. I'm going to be a little quiet, you won't get the same Chad you're used to and I probably won't be talking to the media much, probably not at all, really. I'm going to play ball and ride the wave, man."
Even still, Ochocinco's lighthearted responses Saturday were a breath of fresh air in the land of "it is what it is."
Poor Belichick, holding a rare on-the-field Q&A session following the day's lone session, nearly got stampeded as Ochocinco approached for his chat.
What's most unusual for Belichick about the Patriots acquiring Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, is that neither player is what's thought of as the usual type for Belichick, who prefers the quiet and businesslike to the guys who make headlines off the field.
"I think every player on this team, every person on this team, has their own individual personality," Belichick said. "None us are the same, so that's probably a good thing."
After tweeting on his first day that he had landed in heaven, Ochocinco noted Saturday how "Mr. Kraft and Belichick gave me my angel wings ... and I'm going to soar."
Or re-soar, as the case may be. A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Ochocinco racked up more than 10,000 yards in 10 seasons in Cincinnati. But after averaging 92 receptions and 8.6 touchdowns per season from 2003 to 2007, Ochocinco's numbers have dipped the past three years, as the 6-foot-1 receiver averaged 64 catches and 5.7 touchdowns per season during that span.
Ochocinco is also known for his prolific tweeting -- almost 30,000 messages to more than 2.4 million Twitter followers.
Belichick is not among them.
"That's not something I follow, as you know," he said, cracking a smile. "I don't Twitter, I don't MyFace, I don't do any of those things, so I'd probably be the last to know."
Effusive in his praise of Cincinnati -- particularly the fans who embraced his outrageous touchdown celebrations and social media-fueled transition from plain old Chad Johnson -- Ochocinco admitted there was only so much he could control with the Bengals.
He lit up when talking about joining an offense helmed by Brady.
"Me and Tom are cool, we are really cool," Ochocinco said. "It's been a joy ... I respect him, he's the best at his craft. I've always called him, 'The Surgeon.' It's going to be fun."
Ochocinco clearly already has been versed in the Patriot Way, as he heaped praise on his fellow receivers, particularly Wes Welker, and suggested he had to earn himself a role within the group.
He's made quick friends with some of his other pass-catchers. Hernandez offered jersey No. 85 -- the one that's so crucial, given Ochocinco's chosen surname -- free of charge upon his arrival in New England Friday.
"Nothing [exchanged]. It was Mr. Hernandez's way of greeting me here," Ochocinco said. "He gave me the number, I didn't have to pay anything. I just shook his hand and said, 'Thank you.' I was probably going to give Mr. Hernandez -- I drive a Toyota Prius -- so I was going to let him use the Prius on the weekend. That's the best I can do right now, and I have some leftover McDonald's coupons."
Hernandez, who has switched to No. 81, his college number vacated by last season's departure of Randy Moss, noted: "It was just a welcome to the team. ... I thought he may look better and play better in 85, because that's his last name. So why not give it to him?"
A two-time Pro Bowl selection in Tennessee, Haynesworth's talent was completely overshadowed in Washington by his legal problems and his feud with coach Mike Shanahan that ended with Thursday's trade to the Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.
"They've both been very productive in the league, as we all know," Belichick said. "Look, there's no formula. All the trades we've been involved in through the years -- the Ted Washingtons and the Corey Dillons and the Randy Mosses and all -- each one is different. There're always different dynamics that go into it. In the end, you just try to do what's best for your football team."
Haynesworth, who repeatedly failed his conditioning test in Washington, did not practice on Saturday morning. Belichick would not say why.
"There are things we still need to do with Albert for him to be able get on the practice field and when those things are done, he'll be out there," the coach said.
Asked whether he thought football was important to Haynesworth, Belichick said, "Of course, otherwise I don't think he would be playing football. But those are questions you can ask him. I don't want to speak for him."
Also Saturday, the Patriots announced they have re-signed offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who had been designated as the franchise player, running backs Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris, defensive back Kyle Arrington and defensive lineman Steve Williams.
Chris Forsberg is a columnist and reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.