Redskins' Albert Haynesworth says he's happy in Washington

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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 12:38 AM

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was born in South Carolina and now resides for much of the year in Northern Virginia. But Tennessee, he says, is home. He has a house in Knoxville and a condo in Nashville. He has children there, too. Not to mention a rich and successful past.

Tennessee is where Haynesworth's football career flourished, where he was considered one of the game's best defensive players.

"[Sometimes] I wish I was still back there because I feel like I could still be dominant," Haynesworth said Wednesday. "People still think that I'm not playing as good as I can or whatever. But all of it ain't about the player. Sometimes it's the scheme a little bit."

Haynesworth left the Titans and signed with the Redskins as a free agent in February 2009. Eighteen games into his career with the team, almost nothing has gone as planned. With the struggling Redskins playing at the Titans Sunday, Haynesworth returns to Tennessee for the first time as a visiting player.

It's also the first time he's been home since his younger brother, Lance McCoy, was killed in a motorcycle accident last month in Nashville, assuring a powerful mix of emotions for Haynesworth this weekend.

"I think of my brother every day. It doesn't matter where I'm at," he said. "I know it only happened seven or eight miles away from the stadium. He's still close to me, he's still with me and I think about him every day."

Despite the drama that has surrounded much of his time in Washington, Haynesworth said Wednesday that he's as happy on the field right now as he's been since he arrived in town. He's still not starting and is still playing primarily in nickel packages and passing situations, but he's pleased with how coaches are using him.

"I still think about the good old days and stuff like that. But you got to move forward as a person," he said. "This is a good experience for me."

Haynesworth has been a non-factor for the Redskins at times this season but also has provided glimpses of the defender who was twice named an all-pro and was the hottest commodity on the free agent market before the 2009 season.

Haynesworth said Greg Blache, the Redskins' defensive coordinator last season, used him solely as a "showpiece," and he never felt comfortable in the 3-4 defense that Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett installed this offseason. It wasn't until last month that coaches abandoned their plans to force Haynesworth to play nose tackle in the 3-4.

"We really found a niche on how to use Albert and let him go," said linebacker Brian Orakpo. "In the 3-4, the base defense, Albert doesn't like two-gapping, he's not really good at two-gapping, because he's always been a penetrating type of guy throughout his career. We find ways to just use our nickel, use our other packages where we can just let him go create havoc and get up the field and make those big plays."

But the results still have been mixed. Haynesworth has drawn a lot of criticism this week after ESPN's cameras caught him slow to react to one particular play in the third quarter Monday against Philadelphia. Haynesworth hit the ground and remained there as the play unfolded around him. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick kept moving and eventually found wide receiver Jason Avant for the team's seventh touchdown of the game.

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