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Albert Haynesworth fails conditioning test, sits out team workout as Washington Redskins hold first practice

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 30, 2010; D01

As the Washington Redskins' first training camp practice concluded and nearly 80 oversized men filed toward the locker room, one player quietly emerged from behind the VIP tents and joined a pair of coaches on the far practice field.

Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth failed his morning conditioning test and wasn't allowed to practice with his teammates when camp opened Thursday afternoon. But because he's already four months behind his teammates in learning the Redskins' new defense, coaches wasted little time walking him through the basics.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and Jacob Burney, the defensive line coach, turned over five trash bins, each representing an offensive lineman, and spent more than 20 minutes walking Haynesworth through the team's 3-4 alignment, gap assignments and technique.

If Haynesworth passes his conditioning test Friday morning, he could join his teammates for full practice sessions, lining up against players instead of waste receptacles. Coaches and players alike agreed that Haynesworth looks slimmed down and in better shape than last season, but there's no guarantee he'll pass the running test.

"Hopefully, he'll get it done tomorrow. But it may take two or three days," said Coach Mike Shanahan. "It may take a week. We don't know. His weight's fine; we just have to get his cardio to a certain level."

Haynesworth, who team sources say has dropped at least 35 pounds, was one of only two players to miss the team's first practice. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams did not sign a contract before players took the field and also was absent. Shanahan said he was hopeful a deal would be struck before the team returns Friday morning.

Even when he returns, Haynesworth is expected to work with the second- or third-team linemen.

Haynesworth skipped all but one day of the team's offseason conditioning program, including last month's mandatory minicamp. Thursday marked the first time he set foot on a Redskins practice field since December.

Shanahan wouldn't divulge details of Haynesworth's failed test, though it's believed to have consisted of two 300-yard shuttle runs -- a series of shorter sprints. People familiar with the results said that Haynesworth performed well on the first half of the running drills but apparently needed a break to visit the restroom midway through the drill. When he returned, the sources said, he had to start the test from the beginning and was too tired to finish.

"I don't even think a lot of us guys that were even here 100 percent could pass that thing," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "But that's what conditioning tests are. That's what they're supposed to be for. They're supposed to somewhat unattainable."

Following the test, one source said Shanahan and Haynesworth shared a terse conversation in which the player said he'd never be able to pass Shanahan's difficult test. Shanahan wouldn't discuss the conversation but said, "Albert was first-class all the way."

Shanahan said he felt Haynesworth was administered "a fair test." No other player had to take the test because all were present for organized team activities and minicamps.

The running drill was a part of the team's offseason conditioning program. Shanahan said all of the defensive linemen completed it successfully at that time.

"Albert's got a lot of ability," Shanahan said. "If we get him in shape, in great football shape, he can help us. But we're not going to put him out there until he's in that kind of shape."

One of the obstacles Haynesworth faces early in training camp is regaining favor in the locker room. When he skipped the team's mandatory minicamp last month, several teammates were outspoken in their displeasure, particularly defensive captain London Fletcher.

Fletcher said he didn't speak with Haynesworth on the first day of camp but is happy to see him at Redskins Park.

"He's here. He has the right mind-set coming in," Fletcher said. "That's the first thing that you can ask for really: having the right mind-set. From there, a lot of things can be accomplished."

In Haynesworth's absence, the Redskins fielded a first-team defensive line that featured Maake Kemoeatu at nose tackle and Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston as defensive ends. When Haynesworth returns to the practice field, it's expected he could see time at both nose and defensive end.

The next issue is when Haynesworth returns. Shanahan's comments following Thursday's practice weren't as sharp as they were one day earlier, when he wouldn't even commit to Haynesworth being on the roster for Week 1. He did not admonish Haynesworth for failing the conditioning test.

"The bottom line, we're going to get him in shape," Shanahan said. "He's going to be on our football team. If he's going to be play at the level we like him to play, you have to be in great football shape.

"Is it going to happen? Is there going to be a setback tomorrow? Will he make it tomorrow? I can't tell you," Shanahan said. "The only thing I can tell you is that when he does pass the test, I'll feel very good that he can go out there and compete at that position."

Following their short walk-through on the practice field, Haslett and Haynesworth chatted and smiled before a member of the public relations staff escorted Haynesworth off the field, prohibiting him from speaking with reporters.

"Good first day," said Haslett, who declined to comment on Haynesworth. "Got some good work in. It was good. We'll be fine."

Haynesworth walked by fans lined up for autographs, both cheers and cat-calls following him back to the locker room.

"Ten more laps and we'll love you even more," one fan yelled.

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