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.
By Tom E. Curran