Struggling New Faces Get Vote Of Support

Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth haven't exactly been tearing it up since their arrival in New England. But that doesn't seem to be a problem, at least not according to the coaching staff.

Patriots relieved to escape with win heading into bye
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 Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth were the big names of the Patriots fix-on-the fly, post-lockout offseason retooling.

   Through six games and with the team in the midst of bye week self scouting, neither former Pro Bowl talent has lived up to his fading hype.

   Ochocinco was supposed to add another element to the Tom Brady-led passing attack to make the Patriots even better through the air.
   But the former Bengal has struggled mightily to pick up the complex, multifaceted passing game. He's caught just 9 passes for 136 yards. He's dropped potential touchdowns and failed to get on the same page with Brady almost more often than he's appeared on the field.

   In Sunday's win over the Cowboys Ochocinco played just seven snaps, and was nowhere near where Brady threw it on his only pass in No. 85's direction on the evening.

   Some have wondered if Ochocinco, who got a $4.5 million bonus when he reworked his contract after the trade to New England, will even last through the season.

   Heading into the extra practice time of the bye week, there appears to be no signs that the organization is ready to cut ties.

   "We're happy with what Chad's done for us," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said. "He's probably one of our best practice players. He goes out there, he works hard, practices hard, he's out there on the field, he competes, he has made plays when he has had the opportunity. We're six games in with a long season and we're happy that Chad's on the team."

   New England first-year offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien took a similarly positive stance.

New England Patriots Albert Haynesworth  vs New York Giants on Sept 1, 2011 (Elsa/Getty Images)
   "Ocho is progressing every week," O'Brien said. "He's done a really good job in practice and when he's been in certain part of games, he's produced -- two-minute drives at the end of halves and things. We're happy where Ocho is with things right now. Again, we got a lot of guys that contribute. This is a unique place. We've got a lot of guys that contribute and some guys in certain games are contributing more than others. At some point in time, we're going to need everybody to contribute, so that's kind of where it is right now. Ocho is probably in that category and working really hard to keep producing and eventually help us in different ways."

   Though Haynesworth has been more productive than Ochocinco, he hasn't been the dominant force some expected him to be in a theoretically happy, motivated state after two tumultuous years with the Redskins.

   Haynesworth missed two games with a back injury, seeing reserve action in four others. He had his best game of the season in beating Dallas, although he was only credited with a single quarterback hit on the evening. He, too, is getting some words of encouragement despite tallying just two tackles and two QB hits in a month and a half of life in New England.

   "I think missed time is a little bit of a hurdle for anybody," Bill Belichick said. "I think Albert has been -- the more he's practiced, the more regularly he's practiced and played, the better he's been. I thought he had several good plays (against Dallas). It was encouraging."

   The thing that's really encouraging for Belichick and Company is that they sit at 5-1 alone atop the AFC East at the bye despite getting virtually no contributions through the first month from their two biggest offseason acquisitions. If Ochocinco and Haynesworth truly are getting better and contributors for the long haul, it will only help an already talent New England team on both sides of the ball as the season rolls along.

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