INDIANAPOLIS—Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has been nearly a non-factor in the New England Patriots’ offense in his first season with the team, collecting only 15 catches during the regular season and none in the AFC playoffs.
But if Ochocinco has any complaints, he’s not airing them publicly. Ochocinco says he’s happy to have reached the Super Bowl with the Patriots no matter how diminished his production has been.
“The winning experience is always great,” Ochocinco said this week. “Whether you have a big role, small role or no role at all, that’s awesome. ...You come in with the expectations to be successful and the goal in the back of your mind, as always, is to get to the Super Bowl.”
The Patriots traded fifth- and sixth-round draft choices to the Cincinnati Bengals in late July to get Ochocinco. In Cincinnati, Ochocinco was one of the league’s leading showmen. He rarely was reluctant to make his views known, by verbal or electronic means. And he usually was a focal point of the offense.
That hasn’t been the case in New England. But unlike another high-profile veteran added by the Patriots just after the NFL lockout, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Ochocinco has managed to remain with the team all season.
“If it was emotionally draining, I think I would have spoke out like I did in the past,” Ochocinco said. “I took this as a challenge, as a lesson…. I think I did extremely well.”
One of the favorite targets for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, could be limited or even sidelined in Sunday’s Super Bowl by an ankle injury. It’s not clear if that would make Ochocinco a more significant part of the Patriots game plan.
“I don’t know,” Ochocinco said earlier in the week. “I haven’t seen the script.”
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