Pats Camp Roundup: Ocho elevates his game

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Pats Camp Roundup: Ocho elevates his game

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Chad Ochocinco, slippery-fingered for too many days early in training camp, had the best day I've seen him have. His shining moment? Elevating between rookie corner Malcolm Williams and safety Sergio Brown to make a leaping 50-odd-yard reception on a bomb from Tom Brady. As for the drops? Didn't see one. A collection of other observances from a three-hour Saturday practice: The Patriots will have a day off Sunday. Rookie first-rounder Nate Solder caught a punt at the end of practice that gave them the day off. Figure they probably would have gone until he got it right though. The best10 minutes or so of practice were the 1-on-1 tackling drills between tight ends, running backs, wideouts and the secondary players. Best Hit? Bret Lockett guessing right on a shimmy by Wes Welker and taking the wideout down hard. Best Truck? Undrafted rookie Will Yeatman, who goes 6-5, 268, running over 6-foot, 200-pound Matt Slater. Yeatman didn't bother to put a move on and Slater was left crumpled for a few moments before struggling up. Worst Whiffs? Brandon Meriweather getting out-quicked and out-efforted by Julian Edelman and Stevan Ridley on back-to-back reps. Meriweather failed to even make contact on each play. Albert Haynesworth, Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace, Brandon Tate, Brandon Spikes and Mike Wright were among those sitting this practice out. Wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea talked about the importance of having experienced wideouts like Wes Welker and Deion Branch to tutor Chad Ochocinco as he becomes enmeshed in the Patriots schemes. "I think that having two veteran football players, Wes Welker and Deion Branch, has greatly helped Chads development here early on learning the offense," O'Shea explained. "Its very important that they have open communication on the field, which they have had. Theyve done a great job in the meeting room with Chad. Theyve done a great job on the practice field. Were all working together to get better and thats what theyve done."Our focus at the receiver position right now is fundamentals, getting open and catching the football," O'Shea explained. "Weve worked very hard at practice on being fundamentally sound and along with that, obviously, you have Chad Ochocinco whos running the offense with two veteran football players who know the offense. So, were working very hard on the fundamentals along with learning the offense."Aaron Hernandez had a slew of diving catches during practice. The work of the tight ends early in camp - Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but also rookie Lee Smith and Yeatman - has been eye-opening.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.