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Pats personnel defends Ochocinco after zero-catch outing

There's no way the Patriots can be happy with the season Chad Ochocinco is having, but they're sure putting up a brave front. Like an "Area Man Saves Family, Dog From Burning House" level of bravery.

The loquacious wide receiver played sparingly Sunday and was held without a catch for the first time in two seasons in the Patriots' 20-16 victory over the Cowboys. Ochocinco's limited playing time included a route miscommunication with quarterback Tom Brady.

Through six games, Ochocinco has just nine catches for 136 yards, or, to put it in context, a good game during the veteran's Bengals heyday in the mid-aughts. Even so, Patriots personnel came to Ochocinco's defense during a Monday conference call.

"Ocho is progressing every week," offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said, according to the Boston Herald. "He's done a really good job in practice, and when he's been in certain parts of games, he's produced."

Said personnel director Nick Caserio: "We're happy with what Chad has done for us. He's probably one of our best practice players."

The Patriots can spin this however they want, but you can be sure they were expecting a lot more than a really killer practice player when they gave up two draft picks and $5.5 million in salary. New England has so many weapons on offense that it almost doesn't even matter, but it still strikes us as a pointless exercise to cover for the man.

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