Albert Haynesworth passes conditioning test, finally joins Redskins at practice
Saturday, August 7, 2010; 8:15 PM
Early in the afternoon practice, the large lineman, formerly caught in a tug-of-war between disgruntled and disinterested, squatted down and lined up as a nose tackle, sticking his hand in the grass at Redskins Park for the first time in seven months. The magnitude of the moment- four and a half months in the making- wasn't lost on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who shouted out, "Oh yeah, we got the big guy back!"
On the 10th day of training camp, Albert Haynesworth finally joined his teammates at practice. Earlier in the morning, he passed Coach Mike Shanahan's conditioning test, which Haynesworth had failed on three previous tries.
"The test is over, and you know, now it's back to playing football," Haynesworth said after practice, refusing to take any questions.
Shortly before noon, Haynesworth was greeted by a smattering of cheers when the Redskins' faithful gathered for Fan Appreciation Day realized he was wearing pads for the first time in camp. He participated in position drills but watched from the side when the team ran plays in 11-on-11 drills. Coaches expect him to fully participate in practice when players return to camp Monday morning. Haynesworth will line up as the nose tackle for the second-team defense in a newly-installed 3-4 scheme that kept him from all but one day of the team's offseason workouts.
Despite his initial misgivings, coaches and teammates report that Haynesworth is slowly coming around on the team's new defense.
"I think he knows the nose and the ends are more involved than he thought they were," said defensive end Phillip Daniels. "It ain't just holding blocks. It's, 'Go and make plays.' "
Coaches, though, don't seem overly concerned with Haynesworth's level of contentment. Since moving into their offices at Redskins Park in January, the coaching staff has implemented its new plans without first polling players.
"My job is not him enjoying our scheme," said Shanahan. "My job is making sure he plays at a very high level. We'll find out in time if he does that."
Saturday's practice could serve as the final act in a drama that made the Redskins' training camp one of the most watched in the league. The standoff between Haynesworth and Shanahan all hinged on the defensive lineman passing the coach's conditioning test. The test was mandatory because Haynesworth didn't participate in the team's offseason conditioning program.
Determined to finally pass after three failed attempts - including one botched because of an extended bathroom break - Haynesworth reported to Redskins Park around 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Because of lingering knee problems, he hadn't taken the test the previous four mornings.
"He was going to make that test one way or another," said Haslett, "or him and I might have been fighting on the field today. I had confidence last night he was going to make it."
As he had done the first nine days of training camp, the two-time all-pro met with strength coach Ray Wright, who had Haynesworth's schedule planned for the morning.