Patriots appear likely to keep underachieving Ochocinco

Albert Haynesworth no longer is a member of the New England Patriots, but Chad Ochocinco seems likely to stay, despite being a major underacheiver during the first half of the season.

For Haynesworth, who was claimed Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the result of his underperforming was his release. Ochocinco, meanwhile, is moving ahead in his career with the Patriots. He's becoming more familiar with quarterback Tom Brady and a complex offense different than the one he played in with the Cincinnati Bengals the past 10 years.

Ochocinco's playing time increased Sunday, when he had a season-high five passes thrown his way against the New York Giants. But, for the third consecutive game, he didn't have a catch. Still, on at least two of the passes, he beat the cornerback, but Brady's passes arrived late.

"He's done some good things, and there are things we need to do a better job of," Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said of Ochocinco. "Getting him the ball and things like that."

Usually chatty Ochocinco hasn't talked on the record with reporters for most of the season. Nor has he tweeted as prolifically as he did before joining the Patriots. That's the way coach Bill Belichick likes it.

But by all indications, Ochocinco is a good teammate and a hard worker in practice. Coaches and teammates have been supportive.

"He's being a professional," wide receiver Matthew Slater said Wednesday. "He's getting better. He's great to have on this team. We love having him."

And they've been patient, hoping his good work in practice will translate to the field.

"He's continued to do a great job in practice in his role that he's really carved out for himself," Brady said, "and he's going to continue to be out there and, hopefully, make a bunch of plays."

Ochocinco has just nine catches for 136 yards this season, the same numbers that teammate Wes Welker had in Sunday's game alone. In his 161 career games, Ochocinco didn't catch a pass in just eight, including the past three.

Ochocinco's next chance comes this Sunday night against the New York Jets. He faced them in consecutive games in the regular-season finale in 2010 -- the last time before this season he was held without a catch -- and then in the AFC wild-card game, losing both with the Bengals.

Asked if he's hesitant to throw to players if he's not sure they can make the play, Brady said, "the guys that you're comfortable with, those are the guys that are usually on the field."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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