FOXBOROUGH - He may have dropped a sure touchdown pass that might have changed the Patriots’ fortunes in Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Bills , but Tom Brady is still defending receiver Chad Ochocinco.
During his weekly contractually obligated appearance on WEEI yesterday, Brady was asked about Ochocinco’s postgame assertion that he had a good day in terms of knowing where he was supposed to be on the field.
“He’s been working hard at it. I think the last few weeks, he’s really been much more involved in the game and playmaking,’’ Brady said. “And we’re going to need him. We’re going to need every single player on the roster.
“I have a lot of confidence in Chad - he works hard, he wants to do the right thing, he studies. He spends time after practice trying to get it right. It’s just been a lot for the new guys in particular, the rookies and the veteran free agents, to really take in, in a short amount of time. Chad is definitely making more plays for us, and that’s important for our offense. They’re going to have to defend everybody.’’
During the television broadcast, CBS analyst and former quarterback Rich Gannon blamed Ochocinco for Brady’s second interception, when Leodis McKelvin picked off a ball intended for Ochocinco.
Brady said quarterbacks always stick up for other quarterbacks. Brady said he and Ochocinco continue to work on building chemistry.
“Chad’s been a good player for us since he got here. He and I are always working hard at being on the same page. Are we going to be on the same page as much as Deion [Branch] and Wes [Welker]? No. I’ve played a lot more games with those guys,’’ Brady said.
“We’ve got to eliminate turnovers like that where it’s really unnecessary. I could throw the ball away in a situation like that. I can throw to another receiver if I feel like he’s undercutting it. I thought that was a good play by McKelvin. He went for the interception. He made a big play for their team.’’
Ochocinco was in the Patriots’ locker room briefly yesterday but declined to talk.
Ready and willing
Second-year defensive back Ross Ventrone got the word Saturday just before the Patriots were to fly to Buffalo: he was being promoted from the practice squad.
Though he didn’t get any snaps with the defense, he did play on special teams.
“It was great to be out there and finally be with the team doing stuff, even like traveling, and just being in the game,’’ Ventrone said. “I wish I was able to help more and make more of a difference, obviously, but it was a tough one, [we are] going to have to move on.
“Just the whole experience, I was just glad to be a part of being with the team more and having a role in the game.’’
Ventrone said he wasn’t surprised to be called upon - over his season-plus with the Patriots, he’s heard coaches say that every player, every week, should prepare as if he’ll play.
“That’s why all the practice squad guys are in the meetings and you have to know the game plan and you watch the film with everybody else,’’ he said. “You prepare every week so it shouldn’t come as a shock if they would ask you to - that’s for everybody on the practice squad or in any kind of role, you have to be prepared to play.’’
Rob Gronkowski wasn’t fazed that he was the only healthy tight end available Sunday. He did his part with seven catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Much of his success has come off seam routes. He was asked why that is.
“It’s just basically practice; that’s where it all starts, just learning how to get open,’’ he said. “Basically with every route - just learn how to get open. It starts in practice and gets the connection going out in practice with the quarterbacks and everything.’’
The Patriots visit Oakland Sunday. Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain talked to Bay Area reporters yesterday about the challenge the Patriots pose. “This is just a finesse team,’’ he said. “I mean, Tom Brady’s a smart guy, has many weapons around him, with his receivers as well as his tight ends. His tight ends are playing great right now.’’ . . . Brady will be playing back home in the Bay Area for just the second time in his NFL career, both against the Raiders. He was injured when the Patriots played the 49ers at Candlestick Park in 2008, as well as at Oakland.