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.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

Buy or Sell: Should NFL not test for marijuana?

Buy or Sell: Should NFL not test for marijuana?

Greg Dickerson and Mike Giardi give their take on whether the NFL should not test for marijuana.

Buy or Sell: Patriots will not lose at home even without Tom Brady

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Greg Dickerson and Mike Giardi give their take on whether they think the Patriots will be not lose a home game during Brady’s suspension.