FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Six games into his career with the New England Patriots, Chad Ochocinco has just nine catches and a vote of confidence from his offensive coordinator.

Now comes the team’s bye week with Ochocinco’s role still evolving.

Will it expand? Will it remain limited? Or will he even be on the Patriots when they resume play on Oct. 30 at the Pittsburgh Steelers?

“Ocho’s progressing every week,” coordinator Bill O’Brien said Monday. “He’s done a really good job in practice and when he’s been in certain parts of games, he’s produced, two-minute drives at the end of halves and things.

“And we’re happy with where Ocho is right now.”

Since being traded by Cincinnati on July 28, Ochocinco has struggled with the complex playbook, much more complicated than the ones he had for 10 years with the Bengals.


The Patriots haven’t needed him to help them to the best record in the AFC, 5-1 after Sunday’s 20-16 win over Dallas. He played sparingly against the Cowboys and didn’t have a reception for just the sixth time in his 157 regular-season games.

With receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch and outstanding pass catching tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots can afford to be patient with Ochocinco.

Welker is averaging 131 yards receiving a game. Ochocinco has a total of 136.

When asked if he foresaw Ochocinco staying with the team, player personnel director Nick Caserio gave no guarantee.

“The players that are on the team, we’re happy that they’re here,” he said, “and until something changes, then they’ll be here and we’ll continue to work with the players as much as we can.”

Albert Haynesworth is one of those players.


The defensive tackle traded by the Washington Redskins the same day as Ochocinco was obtained has just two tackles and two quarterback hurries in four games.

“That missed time is a little bit of a hurdle for anybody,” Coach Bill Belichick said, but Haynesworth made “several good plays” against Dallas.

Going into his final preseason game, just five weeks after the trade, Ochocinco was optimistic that he was picking up the offensive system.

“I’ll be there a lot faster than when I’m supposed to be, especially with as much verbiage as I’ve had to learn in such a short period of time,” he said then. “The transition has been extremely good.”

Not good enough for him to emerge as a reliable target for Brady.

On Sunday, Brady threw to him just once. The pass fell incomplete on the first play of a drive after Dallas tied the score 13-13 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.

Brady appeared to be yelling at Ochocinco as the receiver headed back toward the huddle.


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