It has been a trying preseason for the Washington Redskins’ Albert Haynesworth. It all began with him skipping offseason workouts because he wanted a trade due to him not wanting to play in their new 3-4 defense instituted by new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Then head coach Mike Shanahan did not let him practice until he passed a conditioning test, something he failed to do until the 10th day of camp.
Now, after playing in the new scheme for the first time in their preseason win over the Buffalo Bills on Friday night, Haynesworth is starting to buy into the idea.
“It’s different, but I like it. It’s something I’ve got to get used to, but other than that, it’s going to be a good defense,” Haynesworth said following their win. “They allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is really important to me.”
Haynesworth played two first-half series with the second team and even took questions from reporters following the game, something he has not done since last season. The second team is where he will stay until he earns his way back into a starting spot according to his coaches. But a new and improved attitude seems to be evident according to what he has to say.
“Whatever they want me to do, man. I’m just going to keep playing. I know I’m a good player,” Haynesworth said, “and eventually I’ll be with the first team.”
His presence was felt in his two series against the Bills. Buffalo’s offensive line was called for two false starts while he was in the game.
“He’s a big presence there. The more time he gets, the more comfortable he’s going to get with the defense,” defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. “So I think he did a good job overall coming out there and playing, with a short period of practice. So he’ll be fine. More practice, he’ll be even better.”
One thing he is having to get used to is the lateral movement that is required by the nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. It is different than the 4-3 he is used to where he did more upfield work and landed him an All-Pro twice with the Tennessee Titans. One thing that appeals to him about their new defense is that he will probably avoid double-teaming he faced in the past.
“I think it’s going to be a great defense, the way we rush and the way we get after people. I mean, they’re not going to be able to run the ball on us,” Haynesworth said. “So they’re going to have to pass, and that’s going to free me up for one-on-ones, and hopefully I can have a good season.”
Washington will need him to become adjusted sooner than later. NFL sportsbooks have the Redskins with 25/1 odds to win the 2011 Super Bowl XLV.