Originally, Bill Belichick wasn't scheduled to address reporters today.
But when news broke last night of the Patriots' trade for Pro Bowl receiver Chad Ochocinco, the head coach made his second appearance at the mic in as many days.
He opened again by acknowledging that the team was in the process of acquiring the prolific pass catcher, but that the deal had not been finalized as of this morning. However, when the Patriots took to the practice field for their morning walkthrough, there was Ochocinco.
Before the start of the session, he was alone with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien on the left field behind Gillette Stadium. The two seemed to be going over basic formations and terminology of the Patriots offense. A short time later, QB Tom Bradyjoined them for more of the same.
When the squad broke up into offense and defense work, Ochocinco and Brady were together, presumably talking football, for much of the hour-long practice.
Afterward, some of Ochocinco's future teammates raved about the acquisition of a player of his caliber.
"I'm excited to have him and excited to get to work with him," fellow Pro Bowler Wes Welker declared. "Hopefully, we'll come together and make some great plays out there."
"I did meet him," third-year receiver Julian Edelman conceded. "Coach Belichick and [director of player personnel] Nick Caserio are going to do the best they can to put talent out there to win ballgames. If he helps the team, it's going to be great for the team."
The good-natured Edelman gave a playfully sarcastic answer when asked if he knew much about his new teammate.
"Ah … I know he played for the Cincinnati Bengals," Edelman smiled. "And he wears 85."
Welker might be a bit more familiar with Ochocinco from Pro Bowls and, in fact, during the lockout. The two worked out together on occasion – a point Welker reflected on with inquisitive reporters this morning.
"From what I saw, he works hard. He goes out there and puts his best effort. He's an early riser, likes to get after it, and that's what I like," said Welker. "I'm looking forward to seeing that throughout camp and the season.
"I think the toughest part is just going to be learning the offense. We're so complicated and different from where he's been. We're just going to try to help him along and bring him along slowly but surely."
"He's a pretty good receiver," Edelman added, "and I'm looking forward to working with him if [the trade] goes down."
"He's a great player," echoed Welker. "I think he's showed that over the years. Hopefully, we'll get to see some of that out here this week."
Day 2 Camp Notebook
… Temps cooled down to around 80 Friday as skies were overcast and threatening throughout the day. New England took to the field once again for a pair of practices. Like yesterday, the morning session was a walkthrough, with players wearing just jerseys and shorts. No helmets or pads of any kind. The afternoon was a shells and helmets affair.
… By afternoon, the team announced several transactions. New England cut seven players: LB Tully Banta-Cain, CB Tony Carter, TE Alge Crumpler, T Nick Kaczur, DL Marcus Stroud, DL Ty Warren, and rookie free agent LB Ryan Coulson. The Patriots also signed draft picks Ryan Mallett and Marcus Cannon.
… The absentee list for the PM practice was as follows: rookies CBRas-I Dowling, RB Shane Vereen, and OL Nate Solder, and veterans CB Kyle Arrington, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, OL Logan Mankins, and DL Myron Pryor. Six players were on the field but not in uniform: Cannon, S James Sanders, rookie OL Mike Berry, DL Brandon Deaderick, TEAaron Hernandez, and DLRon Brace, all of whom worked on rehabilitation exercises.
… Punt team was the focus of special teams work today. LB Rob Ninkovich was the designated long snapper. His first effort was wayward (high and to the punter's right), but Zoltan Mesko handled it deftly and let off a boomer. Ninkovich settled down after that and fired the rest of his snaps on target. Mesko's punts all were fairly deep turn-overs, but none was struck perfectly. Regular LS Matt Katula, meanwhile, was on the sidelines watching without pads, just his jersey.
… When the squad broke into separate offense and defense fields, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien donned a headset and relayed the plays from the sideline to the QBs in the huddle. On the other field, secondary coach Matt Patricia wore the headset to call defensive instructions.
… Chad Ochocino joined his new Patriots teammates in the afternoon action. The receiver donned a helmet, but not shells, and took part in passing drills. He did not face the defense in the full squad portion of practice early on, which had more of a running theme to it. Later, in 7-on-7, he joined the fray and caught his first pass, a 15-yard out-pattern on the right sideline.
… Ochocinco was wearing his customary jersey number 85. Hernandez, wearing a long-sleeve red shirt, had sweatpants with the number 81 on them. Right now, the 81 jersey is being worn by free agent rookie receiver Jeremy Ross.
… The always entertaining bucket drill re-emerged Friday, with QBs trying to toss a football into a trash barrel in the left corner of the end zone from about 30 yards out. Tom Brady andBrian Hoyer hit the front of the barrel a few times, but most of their throws, along with 1st-year man Jonathan Crompton and Mallett, were on target but overthrown. Each near-miss elicited groans of disappointment from the capacity crowd, which was watching from the stands on the far side of the field.
… S Josh Barrett had to take what looked like an injury timeout during 7-on-7 action. He went to the sideline between the two fields, took his helmet off, and appeared to try to "walk off" whatever was ailing him. He later grabbed his helmet and re-joined the defensive reserves, though only as a spectator.
… Brady hooked up with Ochocinco during 7-on-7, drawing huge applause from the crowd. Brady's pass, with three defenders around Ochocinco, was a bit high and behind him, but the receiver made a great adjustment, leapt backward, and came down with the ball.
… For the second day in a row, CB Darius Butler made a nice effort to knock down a pass intended for a receiver in the middle of the field. He has been working mostly as a slot corner for the past two days.
… Rookie TE Lee Smith made a jaw-dropping, one-handed catch from Crompton. He was running toward the right sideline and the pass was behind him, at his right side. Smith extended his right arm and cradled the ball to his body while spinning clockwise and racing upfield.
… Taylor Price made an exciting, but questionable, touchdown catch from Crompton. On a fly route down the left sideline, he had beaten the double coverage and Crompton's pass was over the heads of the defenders. Price had to slow down to stay inbounds at the back of the end zone, while turning to face the ball. He caught the ball, fell on his back, and flipped over onto his stomach. The ball may have hit the ground, but it was difficult to ascertain. Had it been a game, the play almost certainly would have been reviewed. The crowd seemed to think it was a TD, based on their reaction.
… In 11-on-11 work, the d-line gave the offense several 4-man fronts. File that away for when Albert Haynesworth arrives.
… Offense was getting the better of the defense for much of 7-on-7 late in the day. Several wide open receivers as a result of good route-running and what looked like some coverage breakdowns.
… Team field goal, at the customary end of afternoon practices, saw free agent Chris Koepplin spell incumbent Stephen Gostkowksi. Keopplin was a perfect 4-for-4 inside 40 yards, but shanked all three attempts from the 40-50-yard range.
… Sergio Brown picked off a Crompton pass in the so-called "opportunity" portion of practice (11-on-11 scrimmaging between younger and bottom-of-the-roster players). He read the play perfectly, jumping the pattern as the intended receiver ran an out-route to the right sideline. Brown kept his feet and returned the ball several yards before the play was whistled dead.
… Mallett does throw a dart, but not consistently. He sometimes winds up, and when he does, he risks getting picked off, as happened during his first appearance under center with a full squad.