CHAD OCHOCINO NO LONGER ON BENGALS, JOINED PATRIOTS!
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Chad Ochocinco officially became a member of the New England Patriots Friday afternoon, and he jumped right into practice. Earlier Friday, Ochocinco was seen having a long conversation with quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien behind Gillette Stadium before his deal became official.
The Patriots announced that they had acquired Ochocinco for “undisclosed draft considerations,” but sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Bengals will receive two draft picks, a 2012 fifth-rounder and a 2013 sixth-rounder, to complete the trade.
Ochocinco was scheduled to make $6.35 million for the Bengals this year. The Patriots wanted him to restructure his contract for salary-cap purposes, and he agreed to facilitate the trade.
Ochocinco may have worked out another deal: to get his No. 85 from tight end Aaron Hernandez. Ochocinco had on a No. 85 warmup shirt, while Hernandez was sporting No. 81.
No doubt the outlandish, vocal, colorful and talented wide receiver will make the environment, both on and off the field, an interesting one around these parts, but when it comes to football, it’s already clear Ochocinco is focused and his teammates expect nothing less.
“I’ve known Chad for a long time, I’ve watched him for a long time. He brings a lot of energy to the team, and we’re looking forward to everyone being out here and trying to get better,” Brady said after the morning practice. “Trying to see what we can make of this year. … [Ochocinco has] been a very prolific receiver; I think he’s had a bunch of production over the years. Hopefully he can come in here and find a role on this team, like we’re all trying to do. We’re all trying to come out here and see what we can make of this year, see what kind of role we can make for ourselves.”
After approximately 15 minutes of chatting with Ochocinco Friday, Brady — who proclaimed himself healthy after offseason foot surgery — began to walk through some plays with the rest of his offense, while Ochocinco stood behind the quarterback and studied each one.
Because the transactions of both Ochocinco and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth were not officially complete at the time, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, neither was allowed to practice with the team.
It was not clear when Haynesworth’s trade would go through.
“”We’re working through the process and when it’s complete — if it’s complete — we can talk about it then,” Belichick said.
Before he could participate, Ochocinco tweeted about his first day in New England.
“It’s 1 thing to jump and be able to land on 2 feet but I had no idea I was landing in Heaven. Hope all is well on this good Friday,” he tweeted.
After the team’s hour-long morning session Friday, Brady spoke about his newest teammates, including Haynesworth, who applied a bone-crushing tackle on Brady during a preseason game in 2009 when Haynesworth was with the Washington Redskins.
“I saw him this morning and I told him, ‘I still haven’t forgiven you for that,’ ” Brady said “He said he’s got a lot of friends up here and they’ve given him a lot of grief over the years. He’s a big guy and there’s a lot of competition at the D-line position. Like I said, Chad’s in the same situation. Hopefully [Haynesworth] can come in and fill a role, be a big part of the success of this team. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.”
Haynesworth was not on the field Thursday morning. After the early session, Ochocinco went inside and worked out in the practice bubble under the watchful eye of Belichick.
Getting high-profile, sometimes problematic, players to perform is becoming second nature for Belichick, whose philosophy and team concept usually works. He accomplished that with former running back Corey Dillon and more recently with former wide receiver Randy Moss.
Ochocinco will be no different than any other Patriots player.
“I think Coach Belichick sets an expectation for everybody. He doesn’t treat me any different than a rookie that’s coming out here for his second day of practice,” Brady said. “I think he has expectations that every time we walk in the door, he has four things listed, and every time we walk out, he has four things listed.
“The most important one: Doing our job. When I come in, it’s pretty easy; I follow the game plan that he puts up there. And I think for each guy that comes in, they have to do the same thing. It’s not, ‘Hey, Tom has a different set of rules’ and ‘Wes [Welker] has a different set of rules.’ Everybody has the same set of rules.”
Welker said he was excited to learn that the Patriots had landed the six-time Pro Bowler. But Ochocinco garners almost as much attention from his antics. He has incurred numerous fines from the NFL for touchdown celebrations, including wearing a poncho and sombrero. He is a prolific user of Twitter who has stirred up controversy with some of his posts. Even his name change from Johnson created a stir. So are his teammates worried?
“I always thought it was funny and all the stuff was pretty comical to me,” Welker said. “I never saw it being detrimental to his team or anything like that. We see him being a good teammate and playing a good role on our team and making plays for us like he has over the past 10 years or whatever.
“I was excited. Having a guy like that to make plays for us out there is big. We’re excited to have him and we’re hopeful to see some of the things he was able to do in the past when he was with Cincinnati and bring it over here to New England.”
Fellow Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman agreed with Welker.
“Coach Belichick and [personnel director] Nick Caserio are going to do their best to put talent out there to win ballgames,” Edelman said. “If he helps the team, it’s going to be great for the team. He’s a pretty good receiver and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Belichick and the Patriots keep things serious and they know Ochocinco’s personality is what makes him successful and productive on the field. They’ll accept that, but the players also know there will be a fine line.
“I welcome it. I always like to have fun with it. We’ll keep it at a reasonable level and have fun,” Welker said. “We’ll enjoy each other and play some good football. We’re excited to have him. Hopefully we’ll come together and make some great plays out there.”
Welker witnessed Ochocinco’s work ethic firsthand in Florida while working out during the lockout.
“He works hard and goes out and gives his best effort. He’s an early riser and likes to get after it and that’s what I like,” Welker said. “He’s a great player and he’s shown that over the years, and hopefully he’ll make some big plays for us and keep us moving forward in the right direction.”
Brady first met Ochocinco at the Pro Bowl a few years ago and admitted he was fun to be around because he “loves” football. Brady believes it’s that mentality that will help Ochocinco succeed in New England.
“To be a good player on this team, you have to put the team first,” Brady said. “The Troy Browns, the Tedy Bruschis, the Rodney Harrisons, those guys always set a great example, and the example I learned from over the years, that’s really what the veteran players have tried to do here.”