The influx of veteran players in New England didn't end with the trades for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and defensive linemen Albert Haynesworth. Bill Belichick and his scouting staff continued to dip into the free agent market in the second week of training camp with the additions of former Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, former Redskins pass-rusher Andre Carter and, potentially an even bigger signing, former Jets defensive lineman Shaun Ellis.
Ellis hit free agency after 11 seasons with the Jets, including play last January that saw him record two sacks in New York's beat down of the Patriots in the playoffs. Ironically Ellis was drafted in the first-round in New York with a compensatory pick the team acquired when Belichick joined the Patriots in 2000.
As the Patriots continue to add veteran parts to the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the question remains as to how the new players will acclimate to the team given the lack of an offseason and limited camp action.
That's especially true for Haynesworth, who's already missed a couple practices for unknown reasons. Ellis played end in the Jets 3-4 scheme of late, but could also play tackle in the 4-3 fronts that New England has been employing throughout the early part of training camp. Given the uncertainty that is inherent with Haynesworth, Ellis adds a big body to help mainstay Vince Wilfork along the defensive front in either scheme.
The acclimation process will also be critical for Ochocinco and the offense. The former All-Pro is in the very early stages learning a New England scheme that's both complex and a far cry from what he has done throughout his career in Cincinnati. No. 85 has had more than his share of drops in early in training camp, possibly due to the fact that he's forced to think about every move he makes on the practice field as the offense is anything but second nature to him at this point.
The drops don't seem to worry Ochocinco's coaches or teammates. Tom Brady has emphasized that it's a process and that mistakes are a part of that in August, while New England offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has been quite pleased how his new receiver has approached the task at hand.
"I know from him being here that he has been very professional," O'Brien said. "(He) works really hard in the meeting rooms and on the field. He's a competitive guy and he takes a lot of pride in it. So I think he has progressed on a daily basis and just like everybody else, there're ups and downs at this time in training camp and he's just trying to be as consistent as he can be, just like everybody else out there."
The last time the Patriots were as aggressive in the offseason as they have been this summer the new-look 2007 team that traded for Randy Moss and Wes Welker while signing Adalius Thomas came together almost immediately to break records on the way to a perfect season.
The team expectations aren't quite so high this summer, but that doesn't mean Ochocinco, Haynesworth and Ellis won't be feeling the heat if they're not up to regular season speed by opening day.
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