Now in his 13th NFL season, Ochocinco kept his answers short and sweet – as in three questions and a total of one minute and forty-five seconds short. He let his new teammates and coaches do the talking for him, as well as his performance on the field.
This was the first time Ochocinco had spoken with the South Florida media since signing a one-year contract with the Dolphins last week. Miami is the team he has always wanted to play for being that he was born in Miami and played his high school ball here.
“It’s been a childhood dream of mine, growing up watching the Marks Brothers, watching Dan, some of those guys,” said Ochocinco, who spent 11 of his first 12 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and made six Pro Bowls. “It’s awesome. Throughout the years, since 1988 I’ve always played Madden, I’ve always used the Dolphins no matter where I was playing and to be able to wear the teal and orange, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Last season was Ochocinco’s first not in a Bengals uniform as he tried his hand with the New England Patriots, one of Miami’s biggest AFC East rivals. He adhered to the Patriots’ less vocal approach and did not unleash any of the antics he was known for in Cincinnati, like doing a mock wedding proposal to a cheerleader on the sideline or performing a river dance in the end zone.
So far it appears that Ochocinco is planning to keep a low profile and leave the showman in him behind. At least that what quarterback
“He’s been very quiet,” Moore said. “Everybody has their own opinion about everybody, especially a guy like that because he’s in the media and he does his TV show or whatever. But I can only judge him off of what happens in here and he’s been quiet, hard working and he’s always asking questions and trying to learn.”
If there was any question about how much Ochocinco has left in his tank when it comes to his athleticism and being able to make the tough catches, he answered that midway through practice. Veteran quarterback
Head Coach Joe Philbin also liked what he saw out of some of the crossing routes Ochocinco ran and the catches he made in traffic. Admittedly, he is behind the rest of the team in the playbook and in adjusting to the rhythm of practice, but the guys that had to cover him today came away quite impressed.
“He’s looking good out there, he definitely has ‘it,’” said Smith, who was a wide receiver in college before switching to corner. “I know a lot of people had written him off because of his numbers last year, they weren’t productive. But he’s out here, his routes are crisp, he’s coming out of his breaks and he looks good. He’s definitely going to be one of those guys that turns heads this year.”
Smith added that was the first catch Ochocinco had made on him since he joined in the OTA session last week and that the once flamboyant receiver “put a little something extra on it” to make it look good.
In addition to liking what he has seen out of Ochocinco the person, Moore was another one who is excited about the skill set the veteran receiver brings to the field.
“He’s fast, that’s for sure,” Moore said. “He’s quick and he’s just got that attacking mentality that you love in a wide receiver. He’s got a lot of good things and hopefully we can use those things in the future. He’s an Oregon State Beaver so he can’t be a bad guy.”
Philbin had plenty of discussions with Ochocinco after his workout and before he signed his contract to make sure they were on the same page when it came to expectations. There were no issues and in fact the Miami native couldn’t wait to get on the practice field.
“Last Wednesday we had a team meeting and we called off practice to go do some community service,” Philbin said. “This is my 10th year in the NFL and I’ve been around some practices that have been canceled and I’ve never heard a player that wanted to practice. Chad wanted to practice, so he’s been good. So far it seems like he’s fitting in well.”
What Ochocinco wanted to make clear during his first week with the Dolphins and again to the media today was that he intends on returning to the player he was when he entered the league. He remembers what it took to reach the Pro Bowl and as he sees it, it was less of being a showman and more of being a hard worker.
“For me, it’s about me getting back to the basics, going back to the root of how it all started,” he said. “Not as far as playing at home in Miami but as far as my game goes and getting back to what we’re all used to seeing, the basic fundamentals of how I became what I am. I think I kind of lost that and I’m looking to go back to Chad Johnson and just make it live again.”
FORMER ISRAELI SOLDIER VISITS CAMP: Former Israeli Army Sgt. Major Gilad Shalit, who was held hostage for more than five years by Muslim extremists, was on assignment for Israel’s leading newspaper, Yediot Ahranot, today. He got to interview some of the players for the paper.