Super Bowl Predictions 2012: Chad Ochocinco Will Play Sneaky Role in Pats' Plan
Tiquan Underwood, you're out. Chad Ochocinco, you're up.
Pats coach Bill Belichick shrewdly cut Underwood, a reserve wide receiver and special teams player, less than 24 hours before the start of the final festivities at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The former seventh-round pick out of Rutgers had worked his way onto the Pats roster in the second half of the season after partaking in training camp and running with the practice squad.
How many catches will Ochocinco have in the Super Bowl?
At one point, Underwood was actually ahead of Ochocinco, a six-time Pro Bowler, on The Hoodie's depth chart, though that may speak more to just how mightily Chad has struggled to fit in with the Pats this season.
But now, with Underwood gone and Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater filling holes in New England's vacuous defensive backfield, the onus will fall to Ochocinco to serve as Tom Brady's third receiver behind Wes Welker and Deion Branch.
Not including Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, of course.
That's not to say that Ochocinco is about to go all Denzel on the Super Bowl or anything. He managed just 276 yards and a touchdown on 15 catches this season, largely because he failed to fit into the disciplined, detail-oriented culture in New England and never quite learned the routes he was supposed to run.
Still, it's not as though Ochocinco isn't entirely capable of serving as a decoy of sorts, of simply running a straight line down the field as fast as he can.
With a quartet of quality targets already on hand, Brady isn't likely to send the ball Ochocinco's way often, if at all. That being said, having a deep threat like Ochocinco on hand can only help to open up a Pats' passing offense that remains more or less limited to underneath and over-the-middle routes by virtue of the existing personnel.
So, Pats fans, you can cry for Tiquan Underwood and his flat-top fade all you want, but if Chad Ochocinco comes up with a big catch in the Super Bowl, you'll know precisely how and why such a seemingly unlikely situation ever unfolded in the first place.
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