Skip to main content

Ochocinco warmly received by Pats, feels at home as No. 85

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It appears Chad Ochocinco won't have to change his name again.

That was the colorful wide receiver wearing his usual number 85 at practice for the New England Patriots on Friday, one day after being traded from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Breer: Championship-ready Pats?

Adding Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco is

more than a risk-reward investment. It signals that

the Patriots are in win-now mode, Albert Breer writes. **More ...**

Ochocinco, a reference to the Spanish words for the numbers 8 and 5, legally changed his name from Johnson before the 2008 season. On Friday, he had the number worn last year by rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, who hasn't practiced following hip surgery in February. Hernandez was on the field wearing shorts with the number 81.

Fans cheered when Ochocinco took the field for the afternoon session. Tom Brady connected on passes to him. Teammates went over play charts with him.

"I've watched him for a long time," Brady said. "He brings a lot of energy to the team."

The verbose Ochocinco didn't speak with reporters, although the Patriots officially announced the trade for undisclosed draft considerations Friday. Later in the day, they officially announced the trade for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, in which the Washington Redskins received a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.

Haynesworth needed 10 days to pass the conditioning test with the Redskins before last year's training camp. The Patriots didn't say why he wasn't on the field Friday.

"They're at different stages (of completing the work needed to get on the field)," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said before the morning walkthrough. "One player has some things and another player has other things."

Ochocinco joins Wes Welker and Deion Branch in a strong, experienced New England receiving corps.

"He's been a very prolific receiver. I think he's had a bunch of production over the years," Brady said. "Hopefully, he can come in here and find a role on this team, as we're all trying to do."

During the walkthrough, a serious-looking Ochocinco spent considerable time talking with Brady and Branch as teammates ran through plays.

"I know he's excited," Brady said. "He's excited to be out here, and I think he's excited to be a part of a new team.

"Everyone's really searching for a role for themselves. We're all trying to establish a role for ourselves, Chad, myself, Wes, Deion and all of us are trying to figure out what we can do to help this team win."

Brady had surgery in January for a stress fracture in his right foot but participated in three days of voluntary workouts with teammates at Boston College during the 4½-month lockout.

"I feel really good," he said. "I feel about as good as I can feel."

Brady was one of the plaintiffs in the players' lawsuit against the NFL lockout. That suit was dismissed as part of the settlement on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement.

"I think that I'm just glad that we're back here playing. I haven't thought too much about 'ah, it's over,' " Brady said of the lockout. "It feels like football season to me. It feels like training camp to me. And it feels like we have a lot of work to do."

So does Belichick. He has to run practices while assembling a roster.

On Friday, he released six veterans and one rookie free agent. They were defensive end Ty Warren, offensive tackle Nick Kaczur, tight end Alge Crumpler, linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, cornerback Tony Carter and rookie linebacker Ryan Coulson of Nevada.

Warren, a starter for six seasons, and Kaczur, a regular for five seasons, spent all last year on injured reserve. Those two, plus Crumpler, each carried salary-cap numbers of at least $3 million.

The Patriots also signed two draft choices -- quarterback Ryan Mallett of Arkansas, a third-rounder, and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon of TCU, a fifth-rounder.

Haynesworth can be a dominant player but feuded all last season with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. And he has experienced a number of legal troubles.

"Everyone starts at a clean slate (when they join the Patriots)," Brady said. "You put the team first and come out here and do your job. So I don't think we say, 'Aw, man, because you did this 12 years ago, I think I should have an opinion of you.' I think you develop relationships with players and I think they develop relationships with you, and you see as you go."

Brady last played against Haynesworth in a preseason game before the 2009 season and suffered what the Patriots called a sore shoulder after being crushed to the turf by the 335-pound tackle late in the first half.

Brady missed the rest of the game but played in all 16 regular-season games.

"I saw him this morning and I said, 'I still haven't forgiven you for that,' " Brady said. "He said, 'God, I've got a lot of friends up here,' and they've all given him a lot of grief over the years."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.