Albert Haynesworth feels good about first game at nose tackle

Head Coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb make their Redskins debuts as the Redskins race to victory over visiting Buffalo as FedEx Field.
By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 14, 2010; 1:24 AM

Albert Haynesworth played nose tackle for the first time in his career Friday night and walked away from the experience feeling good about his new role in the Redskins' defense.

"It's different, but I like it," Haynesworth said following the Redskins' 42-17 preseason win over the Buffalo Bills. "It's something I got to get used to. Other than that, it's going to be a good defense. It'll allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is important to me."

Haynesworth fielded questions for the first time since offseason discord threatened to end his tenure with the Redskins after just one season. His remarks Friday were a far cry from his feelings throughout the offseason, when frustration over moving to nose tackle prompted him to request a trade. But Haynesworth said Friday the 3-4 defense the Redskins are using is much different than the one he feared.

"What I was told earlier was completely different from what we're doing now," he said. "Getting with [defensive coordinator Jim] Haslett these last few weeks has really cleared up a whole lot of stuff. I really enjoy it, and it's great to have him on my side to help me with the defense and stuff."

Haynesworth butted heads with Coach Mike Shanahan in the offseason, skipping all but one day of the team's offseason conditioning program.

He reported to training camp on time but wasn't allowed to practice until last Saturday, when he finally passed Shanahan's conditioning test on a third attempt.

Haynesworth declined to comment on the conditioning test, which drew attention across the league. And when asked about his relationship with Shanahan, he didn't spend much time bloviating.

"He's a head coach, I'm a player," he said. "That's what it is."

Controversy swirled around Haynesworth's relationship with the Redskins since he accepted a $21 million bonus check in April. But the drama quelled as Haynesworth joined his teammates for practice last weekend, and Friday night the focus was finally on the playing field.

While Haynesworth didn't reach the quarterback or even register a tackle, he showed in limited playing time that he can be a force in his new position.

"I think it's going to be a great defense," he said. "The way we rush and the way we get after people. They're not going to be able to run the ball on us; they're going to have to pass. It's going to free me up for one-on-ones, and hopefully I can have a good season with it."

Haynesworth played with the second-string defense Friday, which took the field midway through the second quarter against the Bills' starters. On the first snap, Haynesworth drew a double team from right guard Cordaro Howard and right tackle Cornell Green. He took up enough space for linebacker Perry Riley to charge through the middle and pressure quarterback Trent Edwards, who rushed an incompletion.

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