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 email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.