Albert Haynesworth returned to work as $100 million backup Monday, working at second-string nose tackle in his first full practice at this year’s Washington Redskins training camp.
Haynesworth put on his No. 92 jersey and blended with his teammates, usually lining up between defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Darrion Scott as he ramps up his education in the team’s new 3-4 defense. Coach Mike Shanahan lived up to his word that Haynesworth would not be plugged in immediately with the starters.
”Albert obviously has come in late,” coach Mike Shanahan said, ”and he’s going to have to compete to win a position.”
Haynesworth wasn’t allowed to practice until he passed the Redskins’ conditioning test, which was required by Shanahan for skipping the team’s offseason workouts. Haynesworth passed the test Saturday morning, but his left knee was too sore afterward to make it through a complete practice later that day. Sunday was a day off for players.
Haynesworth had been hoping for a trade because he didn’t want to play the 3-4. Teammates now say he’s warming to the new scheme.
”He’s a great player regardless of what defense he’s in,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. ”That’s what he finally realizes, 3-4, 2-5, it don’t really matter, he can make plays. Nobody told him to stop tackling.”
During his time away from practice, Haynesworth was working individually with coaches to learn the play book.
”He knows what to do,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. ”The main thing is getting out here and getting in football shape.”
Shanahan said it was too early to predict when Haynesworth might move up the depth chart, or how much the two-time All-Pro might play in Friday’s exhibition opener against the Buffalo Bills.
”It all depends on how he looks in practice and what kind of shape he’s in,” Shanahan said. ”It takes a while. That’s one of the reasons you do have preseason games, is to get back in football shape. Hopefully he stays in good shape, there’s no setback with his knee, and we’ll see what he can do in preseason games.”