Because Chad Ochocinco didn’t get much playing time last season, there are questions as to what type of player the Dolphins are getting. Will he return to form? Was his brief run with the Patriots an indicator of what’s to come. Or, perhaps more likely, does the answer lie somewhere in between?
What separated Ochocinco, Lapham said, was his footwork, which helped him create separation.
“No doubt in my mind the best feet I’ve ever seen in a wide receiver, in terms of route-running, keeping himself in bounds,” Lapham said. “He just had very quick, jackhammer feet.”
A reported inability to adjust to the Patriots’ complex offensive system led to Ochocinco’s diminishing playing time. By sheer physicality, though, he may be able to quell those concerns without even fully digesting the playbook; in fact, Lapham, who watched Ochocinco for his entire 10-year run in Cincinnati, isn’t too worried about the receiver’s physical tools. He, like many others, wonder how the unsuccessful season with the Patriots will affect his ability to pick things up in Miami.
“It’s not the Chad Ochocinco of his prime of his Pro Bowl career; it’s a Chad Ochocinco that’s on the back nine,” Lapham said. “Usually a player that’s on the back nine is a savvy player, and he’s definitely that. He understands how to beat defensive backs. He understands the physicality part of it. But it will be interesting to see if his exposure to New England will help him in learning what he needs to learn down there in Miami.”
Ochocinco, of course, isn’t the only Cincinnati import to arrive in South Florida this offseason–new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle spent the previous nine seasons coaching the Bengals’ defensive backs.
“If things don’t work out well, it won’t be because of lack of preparation, that’s for sure,” said Lapham, who played ten seasons for the Bengals prior to entering the booth. “Kevin Coyle will burn the midnight oil. He’ll outwork everybody and anybody to make sure that he’s covered every single possibility.”
Both Ochocinco and Coyle could become standouts on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which they both participated in while in Cincinnati. Despite what’s been a mixed bag for past participants, some feel, on both ends of the spectrum, that being on the show can affect a team’s final record. Is there a Hard Knocks curse? Some detractors seem convinced there is, pointing to the potential distractions that the filming of a full-scale television show can present.
Lapham, however, thinks it’s much ado about nothing, even going as far as suggesting that participating in the show may have helped the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals, a team that made a surprise playoff appearance.
“They could make the tug-of-war look like World War III. It’s amazing what those guys can do,” Lapham said. “Players were aware that the cameras were there at all times, and you don’t know what’s going to hit the edit floor and you don’t know what’s going to hit air. So I firmly believe that the training camp the Bengals had with ‘Hard Knocks,’ the intensity level was up every single practice.”
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