By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
FOXBORO For a while there, it seemed the only thing Chad Ochocinco could catch was flak for dropping so many passes in practice.
For any player new to a team like Ochocinco, there's a process involving learning the system, thinking through it and ultimately resulting in simply playing the game.
The learning curve for Ochocinco is still evident, but there's little doubt that one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL in recent years, is starting to get into a nice little groove.
That certainly was the case on Monday, as Ochocinco wowed the sometimes drenched, but always enthused Patriots crowd with a slew of acrobatic catches.
It was good to see, obviously.
But for Ochocinco as well as the rest of the Patriots, the first real measuring stick as far as where they are - and where they need to go - won't come until Thursday's preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We certainly have a long way to go in terms of taking our plays and making them situation-friendly, being able to do them at the right time and with very specific situations and so forth," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "It's a big week for us; we've got a lot to do here."
It's still early and there's a lot of kinks that still need to be ironed out, but that won't stop Tom Brady from wanting every play to work perfectly . . . NOW!
For most of Monday's practice, Brady made the receiver's job for the most part a three-part operation.
Get open. Look for the ball. Clasp the ball.
But on the few plays where Brady either added a few degrees of difficulty with a not-so-Brady-like throw, or just chucked it where it didn't need to go, he was visibly angry at himself.
Kevin Faulk, Brandon Spikes, Brandon Deaderick, Albert Haynesworth and Matt Light were among those out of practice on Monday.
Tackle Dan Connolly spent some time on the sideline on Monday with his right elbow heavily wrapped in ice.
Guard Logan Mankins was laboring a bit after taking a shot to the midsection.
Despite the heavy downpour on Monday, the Patriots fans - not to be confused with fair weather fans, mind you - literally weathered the storm with most of those in attendance prior to the heavy rain, remaining around after it stopped, only to start up again and eventually end shortly before practice ended.