- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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"I've heard small little rumblings that I haven't caught on yet," Ochocinco told reporters. "I'm doing just fine. I'm not sure why or how it is, but coming from any place where you've been 10 years, to come here and learn the verbiage and learn as much as I have the past three weeks, I've done extremely well. It's been fun, it's been enjoyable."
Ochochinco has had a lackluster preseason and doesn't yet appear to be on the same page as quarterback Tom Brady. After sitting out the first preseason game, Ochochinco had a couple of catches for 14 yards and a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then was held without a catch Saturday night against the Detroit Lions. In that game, he was targeted four times and was also flagged for offensive pass interference.
"I know just talking to (Ochocinco), he gets frustrated when things don't go well for him," Brady said in a radio interview Monday. "He's racking his brain, thinking, 'Why do I feel that way? Why do I feel this way?' He and I, we're always in communication. I have a lot of confidence in Chad as a competitor. In the short time I've been with him, he's really fun to be around, he really loves playing the game. He's going to be an exciting player this year, I have no doubts about that ...
"He's been frustrated because he doesn't feel he's been himself, because he's still thinking a lot about what he needs to do, rather than react."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't sound disappointed in his new receiver's effort.
"Chad has worked hard, he's been out there every day," he said. "He's a lot further along than what he was when we started. I don't think anybody is where they need to be yet, that includes every player on the team."
Owner Robert Kraft said that Ochocinco and Brady seemed to "have a great rapport."
"I'll tell you, both (Ochocinco) and Albert Haynesworth are a lot different, in my opinion, than the media has portrayed them," said Kraft. "(Ochocinco is) very self-contained, he works very hard, (and) I know he wants to do well."
In terms of reaching a point where he is completely relaxed on the field, Ochocinco on Tuesday rated himself a "7" on a scale of 1 to 10.
"Right now, I'm able to go out and react; as soon as I hear Tommy call something, I'm good, I'm set," Ochocinco said. "But I'm still not in that comfort zone where I can just be me, somewhat exhale and 'It's on, let's play.' I think it's my third week. Let's be realistic. This is the highest level of football and this is not easy. ...
"I'm just nowhere near where I want to be," he added. "I'm my biggest critic anyway. Regardless of what you write or what you guys see, I'm the first to judge myself. I'm always aiming for perfection. One of those things about being here, in an organization like this that prides itself on perfection and excellence, I'm sort of putting the pressure on myself to be right and be perfect now. Not later. I'm trying to squeeze everything within a shorter time frame. If I can aim to be as perfect as possible, I think I'll get up to speed."
Belichick wouldn't compare what Ochocinco was doing in Cincinnati to the Pats' system, but he said that all the players on the team have faced the prospect of learning a new way of doing things.
"Every player that has come onto this team has come on from a different system so they have had to learn it and adapt to it, whether they're rookies or veterans," he said. "Nobody is born here -- they all come here from somewhere so they have to learn it."
In the meantime, Ochocinco said he understands that daily scrutiny of his progress comes with the territory.
"I like that. You guys have a job to do," Ochocinco said. "You're not my friends, you guys have a job to do and I understand that. I want you guys to critique the hell out of me, as I can also do to you. I hold no grudges, but as you fire upon me, believe, I will fire back ...
"High profile, flashy, flamboyant players coming in, (you're) supposed to come in a certain way, point blank. There is no room. I understand that. I know you're all going to kill me, especially here. Boston loves their sports. If I'm f------ up, you're going to get me."
Ochocinco insisted that he is not frustrated.
"Frustration is a waste of time, a waste of energy. I'll be there. I'll be there a lot faster than I'm supposed to be," he said. "Especially with as much verbiage as I had to learn in such a short period of time; if there was an offseason program I would have been here for a 13-to-18 week period to learn the offense. Everything is crammed in to a short time, and I'm doing the best I can."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.
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