Notes: Ochocinco catching on with Pats

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Notes: Ochocinco catching on with Pats

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO For a while there, it seemed the only thing Chad Ochocinco could catch was flak for dropping so many passes in practice.

For any player new to a team like Ochocinco, there's a process involving learning the system, thinking through it and ultimately resulting in simply playing the game.

The learning curve for Ochocinco is still evident, but there's little doubt that one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL in recent years, is starting to get into a nice little groove.

That certainly was the case on Monday, as Ochocinco wowed the sometimes drenched, but always enthused Patriots crowd with a slew of acrobatic catches.

It was good to see, obviously.

But for Ochocinco as well as the rest of the Patriots, the first real measuring stick as far as where they are - and where they need to go - won't come until Thursday's preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We certainly have a long way to go in terms of taking our plays and making them situation-friendly, being able to do them at the right time and with very specific situations and so forth," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "It's a big week for us; we've got a lot to do here."

It's still early and there's a lot of kinks that still need to be ironed out, but that won't stop Tom Brady from wanting every play to work perfectly . . . NOW!

For most of Monday's practice, Brady made the receiver's job for the most part a three-part operation.

Get open. Look for the ball. Clasp the ball.

But on the few plays where Brady either added a few degrees of difficulty with a not-so-Brady-like throw, or just chucked it where it didn't need to go, he was visibly angry at himself.

Kevin Faulk, Brandon Spikes, Brandon Deaderick, Albert Haynesworth and Matt Light were among those out of practice on Monday.

Tackle Dan Connolly spent some time on the sideline on Monday with his right elbow heavily wrapped in ice.

Guard Logan Mankins was laboring a bit after taking a shot to the midsection.

Despite the heavy downpour on Monday, the Patriots fans - not to be confused with fair weather fans, mind you - literally weathered the storm with most of those in attendance prior to the heavy rain, remaining around after it stopped, only to start up again and eventually end shortly before practice ended.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.