Patriots

Notes: Ochocinco tries to roll with the drops

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Notes: Ochocinco tries to roll with the drops

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Since arriving in "heaven" Chad Ochocinco has had a devil of a time doing what he came to New England for: Catch the football. Balls were ricocheting off of the newly acquired wideout's hands and shoulder pads at a good clip last weekend. This week, he was getting better. Until Thursday. Ocho dropped passes in both drills against air and with coverage. By my count, there were five of them. One came on a bomb during an 11-on-11 drill when he broke behind the secondary and then had a Tom Brady throw pass directly through his hands. Another two came on a 7-on-7 drill (one may have been tipped by Leigh Bodden). Two others came with the offense running through drills. I asked Ocho what was up with the drops. "That's life, always," he said earnestly. "It happens. Just one of those days. It's part of football. Dropping the ball. That's why we're out here practicing, catching. Continue to get better each day. We drop balls. That's why we practice to get better. That's life."Ocho said he would "ride the wave" in New England. Figure this for being an ebb.

Running back Shane Vereen isn't expected to miss too much time. He left practice Wednesday night with what appeared to be a tweaked hamstring. The Patriots worked out former Jet Shaun Ellis on Thursday. The defensive lineman joins the crowd along with Raheem Brock and Matt Roth as free agents the Patriots have hosted but haven't pullled the trigger on. Receivers coach Chad O'Shea spent a good chunk of time huddled up with receivers Ochocinco, Wes Welker and Deion Branch during a drill when the second and third-teams were taking their reps. As smart and polished as Brian Hoyer is, the athletic ability, frame and technique of Ryan Mallett may be hard for the incumbent Patriots backup to hold off for too long. Ochocinco had a sketchy day with the hands that was nearly matched by tight end Aaron Hernandez who had a spate of drops in the middle of practice. There were three of them by my count. Early on, two players who have been outstanding on either side of the ball? Patrick Chung and Rob Gronkowski. After a couple of Ocho drops, Brady overshot Gronkowski downfield during a 7-on-7 drill and the pass was nearly picked. Brady followed that with a double expletive that echoed off the pines. It will be fascinating to watch Albert Haynesworth and Logan Mankins lock horns throughout camp. Speaking on that, Mankins said, "He's a good player. Big, strong guy . . . it's gonna go back and forth. It's good to have him." Mankins added, "I remember my first few years here I got to practice against Richard Seymour all the time so it only made me better and if Albert practices hard, that will make me better too."Haynesworth didn't take part in practice-concluding sprints and looked pretty winded when the team went 11-on-11.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

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QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

Jerod Mayo talks with Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry about the Patriots AFC Championship matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(2:00) Jerod Mayo gives his X’s and O’s breakdown of the Jaguars defensive schemes and traits.

(5:00) Jerod gives his opinion on how the Patriots offense should attack the Jaguars defense.

(8:30) Could Gronkowski be the key to the Patriots offense? What would be the best way to use him?

(15:00) Does the Jaguars defense have a weakness against vertical routes?

(17:00) Jerod Mayo explains why James White could be a key once again for the Patriots. 

(21:00) Will Jaguars change their defensive scheme after allowing 42 to the Steeler?

(23:00) Will much will the Jaguars having the ‘nothing to lose’ mindset impact the game?

Replacing Patriots coordinators not easy, but 'the culture is built'

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Replacing Patriots coordinators not easy, but 'the culture is built'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking at losing both coordinators, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels, to head coaching jobs in the near future. When it happens, that will prompt questions. What's next? How will this impact the on-the-field product? What about the culture?

The short answer: As long as Bill Belichick is around, the Patriots will be the Patriots. The expectations. The culture. The schemes. They all remain. 

"I mean, I believe so," said Patriots captain Duron Harmon. "The culture is built. The culture is built. This is two decades of winning. A winning franchise. Coach Belichick is going to make sure whoever is in the defensive room is going to be the right guy to display the message and the picture that he wants his defense to play with. That goes through the defensive coordinator, whoever he hires."

That's not to say that filling the coordinator job on either side of the football will be easy. Consistency at those positions has value, whether it's in how new players pick up the system, or how certain fundamentals are taught. 

"Whenever you're trying to get something done professionally, to be able to have consistent leadership and foundation upon which to build is important," Patriots captain Matthew Slater said. "A consistent message, understanding what you're trying to get done. And we're fortunate not only with Josh but obviously Coach Belichick and the rest of our coaching staff.

"That consistency with the character of the coach, with the message of the coach, with what he demands of you is important because it helps set a standard. And then when players come in you say, 'OK this is what's expected of me and anything less is not going to be good enough.' " 

Harmon acknowledged that the consistency of having one coordinator in place for several years -- both Patricia and McDaniels have held their titles since 2012 -- can help. But, as just Slater pointed out the consistency coming from the team's head coach, Harmon explained that everything starts with Belichick.

"It's important," Harmon said of having consistency on staff. "Not only is it important coming from the defensive coordinator, but it's important coming from the head coach. Coach Belichick does a great job of always portraying the message he wants, and how he wants his team to play, and it goes through the coordinators and then to the position coaches and then to the players. I think the consistency is not always built straight from the defensive coordinator. I think Coach Belichick does a great job of doing that as well."

It won't be an easy job to replace McDaniels and Patricia when they leave, particularly since the favorites to be their successors could in theory leave with them. But as long as Belichick remains, so too will the standard he's set.