Albert Haynesworth met with the Tampa Bay media for the first time on Thursday, and while he praised Bill Belichick and the Patriots "system," he indicated that he didn't think he was used properly in New England.
Coach Bill Belichick is a great guy and its a great system, but I just wanted to play more, said Haynesworth, who was picked up off of waivers by the Bucs on Wednesday. I wanted to practice more, get more reps and the more plays I got the better I would get. I just wasnt getting a lot of reps, so they made the decision and let me go.
Haynesworth doesn't exactly have a reputation for playing hard all the time, which makes his plea for more playing time somewhat unbelievable. In fact, he hasn't even always trusted himself to be fully dedicated to football. On Thursday, he said he should've signed with Tampa in 2009, but he thought the mix of good weather and fast boats would have been unhealthy for his career. He signed with Washington instead and managed to cripple his reputation even without the beaches and the boats.
He did have contract incentives to play as much as possible in New England, though, and his attitude seemed to have changed for the better with the Patriots as compared to how he acted while with the Redskins. Regardless, the Bucs know they picked up a player with plenty of baggage.
Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik was asked by Albert Breer of NFL.com if Haynesworth had a short leash with his new team.
Sure it is, Dominik said. He does have history, of course. But at the end of the day, you talk to anyone in the NFL, week to week, and you know you can be the hero one week, and be the villain the next. Its tough for any player under that scrutiny. But thats the nature of our business. Hes gonna have a shorter leash, but if hes prepared and ready to play, hell play.
In fact, Dominik liked what he saw from Haynesworth in the six games he played for New England.
I saw disruption, Dominik said. I saw strength, a finisher, a guy with the ability to put a lot of pressure on an offense. Hes still able to be a penetrating force. He can hit it and go. I didnt see as much dogging it, but I did see the last play, where he played a 1-gap technique, and I can see why it got them frustrated. He opened up the run lane, and Brandon Jacobs walked in the end zone. That said, I didnt see a guy that didnt care. He battled and competed. I think hes worthy of an opportunity.
Haynesworth was asked about that play in the third quarter of last week's Patriots loss to the Giants. He was tossed aside like a 350-pound rag doll by the Giants guard David Diehl, but Haynesworth insists he hadn't given up on the play.
To me, any time youre on the football field youve got another guy trying to knock your head off. Youre not going to play? Thats just not me, Haynesworth said. Thats why I always play hard because Im my kids role model and I just want to fight and to show them to always keep fighting no matter what it is.