On Tuesday, Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio uttered one of the great lines of the season. Asked about Chad Ochocinco -- he of the 9 catches and 6 million in compensation -- Caserio said on a conference call, "We're happy with what Chad's done for us. He's probably one of our best practice players."Blink. Blink blink. It's one thing to want to deflect scrutiny and go to bat for a player that the coaching staff and front office is clearly fond of. But this bizarro world insistence that everything's clicking and this is what the Patriots expected a day after Ocho was held catchless and played a grand total of seven snaps is embarrassing. "One of our best practice players..." That's like lauding Jon Lester for shagging flies, praising Glen Davis for rebounding during shootaround. The guy wasn't hired to be a practice player. He was hired to do what Bill Belichick has so often stated is the wide receiver job description. "Get open. Catch the ball."If he was good at doing it, he'd be out there more than seven snaps and he'd have more than nine catches. Patriots' offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, also on a conference call, said, "Ocho's progressing every week. He's done really well in practice and when he's been in games he's produced. Two minute drives at the end of the half. We're happy with where Ocho is."O'Brien and Caserio are sensible guys. They know how goofy it sounds to ask everyone to suspend reality and grade Ocho on some newly-invented curve that makes practice effort and likability prime considerations. O'Brien at least seemed to temper his praise when he said, "Again, guys, we got a lot of guys that contribute. This is a unique place. Some guys in certain games are contributing more than others and at some point in time we'll need everybody to contribute."It's the same "just wait" promise Ocho himself has been making since he got here.Or was making. Now his promises to be endlessly entertaining once he gets the offense downare laughable. He's in a position where he needs to make himself relevant orfind himself out of the league. The Patriots' "trophies for everyone" attitude with Ocho is so counter to what they've been about that -- even though he's about the 40th most important player on the team -- it's compelling to watch. "He goes out there and works hard, practices hard, he's out there on the field, he competes," insisted Caserio. "He's made plays when he's had an opportunity. We're six games in, it's a long season, we're happy that Chad's on the team."Whatever they say.
FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all.
He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.
On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed.
“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”
The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle.
“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”
Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”
As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”
FOXBORO - The Patriots got a desired outcome Thursday night when the Chiefs handed the Raiders their third loss of the season.
The 21-13 loss dropped Oakland and KC into a tie atop the AFC West at 10-3 but the Chiefs, by virtue of beating Oakland twice this season, have the divisional tiebreaker. Oakland went from the top seed in the AFC to the fifth spot.
More importantly around here, the Patriots now are in position to win out and claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Prior to the Raiders loss, Oakland would have been the top seed if both they and the Patriots won out. Now, the 10-2 Patriots have a leg up on the rest of the conference. The Raiders’ road stays tough. They are at San Diego and Denver and host the Colts.
The Chiefs have a more favorable close to the season with home games against Tennessee and Denver before their season finale at San Diego.
The Patriots’ road over the final four is no picnic though, beginning with the Ravens and at Denver before the last two hosting the Jets and traveling to Miami.