Notes: Ochocinco tries to roll with the drops

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Notes: Ochocinco tries to roll with the drops

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Since arriving in "heaven" Chad Ochocinco has had a devil of a time doing what he came to New England for: Catch the football. Balls were ricocheting off of the newly acquired wideout's hands and shoulder pads at a good clip last weekend. This week, he was getting better. Until Thursday. Ocho dropped passes in both drills against air and with coverage. By my count, there were five of them. One came on a bomb during an 11-on-11 drill when he broke behind the secondary and then had a Tom Brady throw pass directly through his hands. Another two came on a 7-on-7 drill (one may have been tipped by Leigh Bodden). Two others came with the offense running through drills. I asked Ocho what was up with the drops. "That's life, always," he said earnestly. "It happens. Just one of those days. It's part of football. Dropping the ball. That's why we're out here practicing, catching. Continue to get better each day. We drop balls. That's why we practice to get better. That's life."Ocho said he would "ride the wave" in New England. Figure this for being an ebb.

Running back Shane Vereen isn't expected to miss too much time. He left practice Wednesday night with what appeared to be a tweaked hamstring. The Patriots worked out former Jet Shaun Ellis on Thursday. The defensive lineman joins the crowd along with Raheem Brock and Matt Roth as free agents the Patriots have hosted but haven't pullled the trigger on. Receivers coach Chad O'Shea spent a good chunk of time huddled up with receivers Ochocinco, Wes Welker and Deion Branch during a drill when the second and third-teams were taking their reps. As smart and polished as Brian Hoyer is, the athletic ability, frame and technique of Ryan Mallett may be hard for the incumbent Patriots backup to hold off for too long. Ochocinco had a sketchy day with the hands that was nearly matched by tight end Aaron Hernandez who had a spate of drops in the middle of practice. There were three of them by my count. Early on, two players who have been outstanding on either side of the ball? Patrick Chung and Rob Gronkowski. After a couple of Ocho drops, Brady overshot Gronkowski downfield during a 7-on-7 drill and the pass was nearly picked. Brady followed that with a double expletive that echoed off the pines. It will be fascinating to watch Albert Haynesworth and Logan Mankins lock horns throughout camp. Speaking on that, Mankins said, "He's a good player. Big, strong guy . . . it's gonna go back and forth. It's good to have him." Mankins added, "I remember my first few years here I got to practice against Richard Seymour all the time so it only made me better and if Albert practices hard, that will make me better too."Haynesworth didn't take part in practice-concluding sprints and looked pretty winded when the team went 11-on-11.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Unconventional NFL draft grades

Unconventional NFL draft grades

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Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

Caserio: Brady's age has nothing to do with draft approach

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took four players in this year's draft. Four. That's the smallest draft class in team history

Instead, as Bill Belichick highlighted on Friday night, they spent multiple picks in this year's draft to pick up proven commodities. 

* Their first and third-rounders were sent to New Orleans in exchange for receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth. 

* Their second-rounder ended up in Carolina, bringing defensive end Kony Ealy and a third to New England. 

* They lost a fourth-rounder to Deflategate and sent another away in order to pry tight end Dwayne Allen and a sixth-rounder from the Colts. 

* They sent a fifth-rounder to Buffalo as compensation for signing restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee. 

* Before last season the Patriots sent a fifth to Cleveland for linebacker Barkevious Mingo. 

* Before last season's trade deadline they sent a sixth-round pick to Detroit for Kyle Van Noy and a seventh-rounder. 

"Obviously, we’ve been watching a lot of picks go by," Belichick said on Friday, "but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago. The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process. Hopefully we’ve been able to improve our team, become more competitive. That’s the ultimate goal."

Even on the last day of the draft, the Patriots didn't stop trading picks for veterans when they sent No. 183 overall to Kansas City in exchange for tight end James O'Shaughnessy

But when Nick Caserio was asked on Saturday if his team's approach to the draft -- taking more established players instead of gambling on draft picks -- had anything to do with Tom Brady's age, he shot down that theory.

“That has zero to do with it,” Caserio said. “I would say really the team-building process is very fluid. How it is going to go? There’s no template. There is no book with how it is going to go. 

"There’s a lot of really good players that were in this draft that have been drafted and will help their respective teams. We understand that and understand we felt the same way. There were enough players up there that we felt good about. We take the resources that we have and we try and make the best decision for our team."

In reality, the approach of taking such a small number of draftees is probably more a reflection of the current roster than the quarterback's age. It's loaded, and it seems like there will be relatively few opportunities for rookies to make the Week 1 roster.