By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
FOXBORO Inside the New England Patriots locker room, there was an Albert Haynesworth sighting on Friday.
On the practice field, there he was for the second day in a row.
If you've followed the injury-riddled, conditioning-challenged Haynesworth even in passing, stringing together a couple of consecutive practices is a bigger deal for him than others.
Now whether he plays on Sunday when the Patriots host the New York Jets, remains to be seen.
If he does, his return could not come at a better time for a Patriots defense that's dead-last in the NFL with teams ripping them for 477.5 yards per game.
Potentially having Haynesworth return also bolsters the Patriots against a Jets running game that for years has been one of the team's greatest strengths.
In addition to being one of the NFL's top defenses under Rex Ryan, New York has also found success with a punishing rushing attack that has finished no worse than fourth in the league under his leadership.
The Jets (2-2) have thrown the ball considerably more this season than past years under Ryan, which to some degree helps explain why they are near the bottom (30th out of 32 teams) in rushing the ball this year.
New York has thrown the ball 147 times this season which ranks 11th in the NFL. Last season, they ranked 18th in pass attempts. The year before that?
Even if the numbers suggest that New York is airing the ball out more, the Patriots expect to see the Jets -- losers of two in a row -- go back to their ground-and-pound rushing attack ways on Sunday.
If they do, that makes the potential return of Haynesworth even more invaluable.
Prior to Friday's practice, he wasn't sure if he would be able to play against the Jets.
"I hope so," he said. "But I'm definitely feeling better. We'll see."
In addition to providing a much-needed inside presence defensively, Haynesworth will also be looked upon as someone who can also help the Patriots with their leaky pass defense.
"I hope all our players that play, play well," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We'll see where we're at with Albert. He can definitely help us. He's a versatile guy - he can play the run, he can rush the passer, he's a physical guy, he's a good athlete. We just have to see how all that plays out and what he's able to do."