Ochocinco shows he's got a long way to go

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Ochocinco shows he's got a long way to go

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran

TAMPA BAY That Chad Ochocinco scored a touchdown Thursday night on his first reception as a Patriots shouldnt cloud the fact that hes a long way from being a trusted piece of this offense. It will cloud it, though. Youll see the 8-yard reception replayed a few dozen times over the next week. The insinuation will be that this was just the first of many touchdowns in what will be a blissful marriage. Fact is, you and I both could have made that touchdown catch because of the way Tampas defense sucked up when they saw a play-action fake to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Ocho was all alone. But on the three other throws that targeted the celebrated wideout in a Patriots rout, Ocho and Tom Brady had a miscommunication, Ocho leaped and got clobbered on a deep in-cut and he caught a slant. He got hauled off the field by Bill Belichick on the Patriots first drive, apparently for not getting downfield on a 29-yard run by Danny Woodhead. And he spent a good chunk of one drive watching with receivers coach Chad OShea from the sidelines. Its like a machine out there and Im that one part thats not up with anybody else, Ocho admitted. I got a long way to go, personally.The Patriot offense ran roughshod over Tampa Bay, but there were more than enough missteps to leave Tom Brady shaking his head over the rust that still needs to be knocked off. We expect to go out there and score, Brady said when asked if this was his best performance. We had six drives, four of them ended in touchdowns . . . There was some good, there was plenty of bad. Im sure Ill see the film tomorrow and be disappointed with some of the things that I wish I could have done better. I think theres a lot of things we need to do better out there. A lot of things I need to do better. Too many things where we need to do a better job. We missed a lot of time, Brady explained. "Thats the reality of whats happened this offseason. We missed a lot of time. Six months we couldnt really do what we wanted football-wise. A lot of it is trying to continue to talk and communicate.In an offense like New Englands, where there is so much reading and reacting on the fly after the snap, precision is job one. And the precision between the games best quarterback and a player as decorated and productive as Ocho doesnt just appear. Its a hard sport, man, said Brady. Theres nothing easy about it. Dropping back and finding the right guy to throw to and those guys running the right route and the right depth at the right time, theres a lot of work that needs to be put into it. Its not something that you just magically, Hey, lets talk about it and now were good at it! You gotta put the work in, you gotta practice, you gotta make the mistakes so you can make the corrections. Thats what were trying to do.The tempo the Patriots offense operates at is rare. As Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy explained, Rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn came to me and was like, Oh my god, it was so fast! I said, I know! Thats what Ive been trying to tell you! It was a reality check, we needed that. They came out, theyd turn around huddle, snap, oh, 'Theres the Mike, go!' I was like, Dang! Um, Mr. Brady, can we line up? He didnt care. He was like, Youre not going to line up. When we turned around one time I checked back around and my hand was going to the grass and they were like, Hut! And I said, Noooooooooooo! Despite all his years in the game, its a very different situation for Ochocinco to be the one whos confused. I have to get to the game tempo, he lamented. Im behind the 8-ball tremendously. This is different from practice, being in the game. Its a start, I got a feel for it. Its like being married. As time goes on you get comfortable and gel and I want to hurry up and get that feeling so I can be me. I gotta get there now. Shoulda been there yesterday.Ocho is going to be demanding. He knows theres focus on him, focus that he helped bring because of who he is. I need them to stay in my ear constantly, especially during the preseason, he declared. The more I hear, the more I can absorb and become a sponge. The more relaxed I am, the better I play.Bradys fine with that, he said. When were in the game, when were out of the game on the practice field, in the meeting room . . . were always communicating so that when it does come to game time everyone is really confident in one another and when it comes to game time, youre really confident in him, he explained. The confidence Ocho normally has in himself isnt there yet. Nor is Bradys confidence in Ocho. It remains very much a work in progress. And the clock is ticking. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

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Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

FOXBORO -- It's clear that Tom Brady wants to play at some point this preseason. What's a little less clear is what he thinks he stands to gain from preseason game reps in August when he won't be playing meaningful snaps until October. 

After explaining why he missed Thursday's preseason game with the Bears, which he was scheduled to start, Brady was asked on Tuesday if he feels as though he needs game reps before matching up with the Browns in Week 5.

"I don’t think any of them hurt," he said. "I think just do the best you can do. We’re preparing a lot of guys to get ready to play. I fit into that, but so do a lot of other guys. I’m just taking the advice of coach [Bill Belichick], and whatever he wants to do. I’m going to do everything I can to be ready to go when I am called upon. That’s what my responsibility is so that’s what I’m preparing to do."

If the only benefit of having Brady play against the Panthers in the third preseason game amounts to, "Well, couldn't hurt..." then it would come as some surprise if Belichick opted to play Brady anyway. Because it could hurt. It could hurt quite a bit should something flukey happen and Brady ends up worse off than he was after his recent run-in with a pair of scissors. 

Former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi, told WEEI recently that Brady needs to work in a preseason game before serving his four-game suspension. Why? 

"The speed of the game changes," Lombardi said. "You have practices against the Bears, but it’s kind of simulated and controlled. I think Tom wants to get the flow of the game . . . Because it’s the third preseason game, Jimmy [Garoppolo] is probably going to play as much into the third quarter as possible, and then you don’t want to put Tom out there with a lot of other guys that perhaps won’t make the team. The second game was kind of a game where he should have played a little bit to get his feet wet. He’s not going to play the fourth game against the New York Giants. That’s going to be Jacoby Brissett’s game. 

"I think [the Bears game] was the time, and that’s why [Brady] was going to play. Obviously something happened with the injury and that’s why he didn’t play . . . I know Tom needs to play in the preseason. He’s not just going to go waltz onto the field and feel the game is going to come right to him."

It feels as though Brady, after 16 years in the NFL, would be able to adapt to the speed of the game relatively quickly with or without preseason reps. But Brady expressed an opinion similar to that of Lombardi when asked about the difference between preseason snaps and practice snaps. He's seen plenty of the latter against the Bears, Saints and his own teammates.

"Well, I think you’re getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that," Brady said. "For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren’t touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they’re coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important.

"You just have to feel things out, and the game is really the only place to get it because it’s regular speed. You don’t know what’s coming. We prepare, but we don’t obviously get to walk through the looks that we’re going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I’ve always tried to do."

Maybe it's to adapt to the pace of the game. Maybe it's to be faced with the real threat of contact. Maybe it's just because he can't stand not to be on the field when the Patriots are playing. Either way, Brady obviously hopes that he'll play on Friday night in Carolina. 

The question now is are the benefits great enough that Belichick will allow him to?