Given his explosiveness–both on and off the field–the signing, supported by some, maligned by others, is undoubtedly generating a lot of buzz around the league.
“Watching the Patriots practice three times for the Super Bowl, I was really impressed with Chad,” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “He was much sharper physically than I anticipated. The key is to find things he does well and stick to basic routes.”
Ochocinco’s new incentive-laden contract, as documented by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, essentially amounts to the Dolphins taking a flier on the veteran receiver.
“There’s no downside to this, and if I’m in Miami’s situation, I would have done it, too. If he can’t do it, you can get rid of him,” Collinsworth said. “Physically, he has something left. He has this non-stop brain that would call [Bengals coach] Marvin Lewis at 3 in the morning and suggest a play.”
A reported inability to grasp the Patriots’ complex playbook seemed to ultimately be Ochocinco’s undoing in New England. Questions about whether his physical tools have diminished remain for some, but a majority of those skeptical about the signing point to his supposed learning issues and some of his old off-field antics.
“He still has enough physical skills to be productive, but route discipline has always been a question,” NFL Network’s Charley Casserly told Jackson. “Does Chad get it, at the end of his career, that he has to be a good soldier and it has to be about the team, not him?”
It will be telling to see how Ochocinco adapts during the Dolphins’ fast-paced practices, especially with the Hard Knocks crew present.
On Tuesday, he debuted to rave reviews from Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, both saying, given it was his first practice, it felt like he hadn’t lost much. CBS Sports’ Phil Simms, who has been calling AFC games for Ochocinco’s entire career, isn’t concerned about the receiver’s practice habits, thinking, instead, that he may be able to set the tone for the young Dolphins receiving corps.
“I have no doubt physically, he is still capable of being a solid NFL receiver and have an impact. It’s a really good signing, especially with the situation they are in with receivers. The energy I saw at Bengals practices [before 2011] was awesome, and it was driven by one guy: Chad. Full speed every play.”
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