Chad Ochocinco has a lot to learn
At first look, some of the names available you'd swear would never be Patriots. But before you could blink your eyes, nearly a half-dozen fresh faces were in Foxboro either via trade or free agency. Some of the names were big surprises. How will they fit in, and can they learn the "Patriot Way" without rocking the boat?
Acclaimed veterans must acclimate to Patriots' ways
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
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
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