Ochocinco OK with scrutiny in the media

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Ochocinco OK with scrutiny in the media

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Chad Ochocinco's heard the "rumblings" about the slow start to his Patriots tenure. He defended himself, saying he's done "extremely well" in picking up as much as he has so quickly. But he also said he's fine with the critiques. "I like that," he said when asked if he was OK with the scrutiny. "You guys have a job to do. You are not my friends. You 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. "I'm nowhere near where I want to be," he added. "Regardless of what you write or what you see, I'm the first to judge myself. I aim for perfection. I'm putting the pressure to be right and be perfect now. Not later. I'm trying to squeeze everything in a short time frame. It's somewhat impossible. But if I aim to be as perfect as possible, I'll get up to speed."In two preseason games, he's caught two balls for 14 yards. One was a slant for 6 yards. The other was a simple play-action lob from Tom Brady for a touchdown. He was catchless on Saturday in Detroit. He had a bad drop and another pass glanced off his hands. Tom Brady blamed himself for a pick he threw in Ocho's direction. Ocho understands the fixation on his progress. "High profile, flashy, flamboyant player coming in and I'm supposed to come in a certain way," he acknowledged. "Point blank. There is no room...you know what I mean? I know y'all gonna kill me, especially here. Boston love they sports and if I'm (expletive) up you're gonna get me."This is about the fourth time we've had a "State of the Ocho" address. Each one has been entertaining as hell but the message hasn't changed much. He's still a work in progress. "I've been just fine," he assured. "(You've) got to think of 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 two weeks, I've done extremely well. ... I'll be there a lot faster than what I'm supposed to be. If there were an offseason program, I would have been here for an eight-week period to learn this offense." How close is he to being able to just perform without thinking? "Right now, scale of 1 to 10, how far am I from what you described?" he asked, repeating the question. "Probably a 7. Right now, I'm able to go out and as soon as I hear Tommy (Brady) call something I'm good, I'm set. But I'm still not in that comfort zone where I can be me. Exhale and say 'Oh, it's on. Let's play.' It's only my third week. Let's be realistic. This is the highest levels of football."Ocho says everything is as he expected it. From Brady to Belichick to the media. He is neither apologizing for nor planning to tone down his outsides personality. "If I'mnot me, then I'm not playing my game. For me to change my entire style at this point, I'd be a dead duck. You'd be on me every week."As the conversation broke up, Ochocinco said to the dispersing media, "Feelfree to kill me at will." Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

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Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett could use a rest, and the Patriots had him sit out for the start of Wednesday's practice.

The 6-foot-7 tight end is dealing with ankle and shoulder issues that have limited him in practice in recent weeks, and he missed an appearance at a preschool on Tuesday with what a representative called an illness. During Sunday's game against the Rams, Bennett's physical ailments clearly limited him as he had difficulty both as a blocker and as a receiver. 

The Patriots also went without safety Jordan Richards, receiver Danny Amendola and special teams captain Matthew Slater at the start of practice. Richards suffered a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12 and missed practice time last week. Amendola endured an ankle injury against the Rams and left the game iin the third quarter. Slater is dealing with a foot injury that has kept him out of the last two games. 

Patriots corner Eric Rowe was present for the start of Wednesday's practice, but he was not spotted with other corners after a couple of drills. Rowe injured his hamstring late in the third quarter against the Rams and did not return. 

Patriots running back DJ Foster was spotted with receivers near the end of the team's media-availability period Wednesday after working out with running backs to start the session. Foster played receiver for a year in college after beginning his collegiate career as a running back. If the Patriots want depth at wideout with Amendola injured, Foster could be an option.

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

After a 3-0 start, the Ravens dropped a 28-27 decision to the Raiders in Baltimore. That started a four-game skid for Baltimore which included back-to-back losses at the Jets and Giants. But they got back on track against the Steelers and have won four out of five with their only being to the Cowboys. It’s hard to get a clean read on who they really are. 

They had narrow, early-season wins over crap teams like Cleveland and Jacksonville. They had a narrow loss to an outstanding Raiders team and were close with the Cowboys but got run over late with Dallas scoring on its last five possessions. They are coming off their most impressive team win, a 38-6 triumph over the Dolphins. 

This game is a big one in the AFC race not just because it’s a divisional leader but also because it will be a common game between the Patriots and Raiders. The Raiders already beat Baltimore. 

The Pats need to keep pace in a tiebreaker they currently trail. Weird schedule quirk? The Ravens have had only one road game that required a long commute since September. That was the game at Dallas. They just played six of their last nine and four of their last five at home.

LAST 5

Ravens 21, Steelers 14
Ravens 28, Browns 7
At Cowboys 27, Ravens 17
Ravens 19, Bengals 14
Ravens 38, Dolphins 6

OFFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

More than half of Joe Flacco’s 323 completions have gone to three players: tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57) and wide receiver Steve Smith (54). Those players are 31, 30 and 37 respectively so it’s a veteran group.
Flacco is 114 of 159 (72 percent) with nine touchdowns and three picks in Baltimore’s last four games. He has 15 TDs and 11 picks this season.

The Ravens don’t run it much: 502 pass attempts, 287 rushing attempts. Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon are the lead backs. West has carried more than 15 times in a game on three occasions this season.

Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been playing very well as has the rest of the Ravens offensive line in recent weeks. Still, Baltimore is just at 34.1 on third down conversions.

DEFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

The Ravens have allowed 207 points this season, tied with the Patriots for lowest in the AFC and just behind Seattle (194) overall.
Baltimore’s allowing just 33.3 percent conversions on third down and only 3.4 yards per carry.

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their passes and have 21 touchdown passes and 14 picks against the Ravens defense. Ten of the Ravens 14 picks came against the Browns, Jaguars and in last week’s rout of Miami.
 
WHERE ARE THEIR HEADS AT

"I just think they've got a great team. They've got Tom Brady. They've been the best team in the conference, and it's going to be our toughest challenge of the year." – John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, on Monday night’s matchup