- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - Six games into his career with the New England Patriots, Chad Ochocinco has just nine catches _ and one vote of confidence from his offensive coordinator.

Now comes the team’s bye week with Ochocinco’s role still evolving.

Will it expand? Will it remain limited? Or will he even be on the Patriots when they resume play on Oct. 30 at the Pittsburgh Steelers?

“Ocho’s progressing every week,” coordinator Bill O'Brien said Monday. “He’s done a really good job in practice and when he’s been in certain parts of games, he’s produced, two-minute drives at the end of halves and things.

“And we’re happy with where Ocho is right now.”

Since being traded by Cincinnati on July 28, Ochocinco has struggled with the complex playbook, much more complicated than the ones he had for 10 years with the Bengals.

The Patriots haven’t needed him to help them to the best record in the AFC, 5-1 after Sunday’s 20-16 win over Dallas. He played sparingly against the Cowboys and didn’t have a reception for just the sixth time in his 157 regular-season games.

And with wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch and outstanding pass catching tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots can afford to be patient with Ochocinco.

Welker is averaging 131 yards receiving a game. Ochocinco has a total of 136.

“This is a unique place,” O'Brien said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that contribute, and some guys in certain games are contributing more than others and, at some point in time, we’re going to need everybody to contribute. … And Ocho’s probably in that category and really working hard to keep producing and, eventually, help us in different ways.”

Player personnel director Nick Caserio praised Ochocinco on Monday as “probably one of our best practice players.”

And, he said, “we’re six games in. It’s a long season. So, I mean, we’re happy that Chad’s on the team.”

When asked directly if he foresaw Ochocinco staying with the team, Caserio gave no guarantee.

“The players that are on the team, we’re happy that they’re here,” he said, “and until something changes, then they’ll be here and we’ll continue to work with the players as much as we can.”

Albert Haynesworth is one of those players.

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