Haynesworth: 'I just wanted to play more'

582462.jpg

Haynesworth: 'I just wanted to play more'

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.

Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice report: Garoppolo, Brissett practice again

helmets-patriots-blue-bills.jpg

Thursday's Patriots-Bills practice report: Garoppolo, Brissett practice again

FOXBORO -- The Patriots held a walkthrough on the field behind Gillette Stadium one day after both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) tested their arms during the team's practice in full pads n Wednesday.

Both quarterbacks were back on the field, but for the second consecutive day they were limited, according to the injury report. That injury report was, in fact, unchanged from Wednesday's, meaning tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) and linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) were also limited. 

There was one significant alteration to the Bills practice report, however, as tight end Charles Clay (knee) was back on the field Thursday. Receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) remained out. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick described Watkins' explosive abilities in Buffalo's passing game earlier this week. 

"Watkins is big, he is good after the catch, he’s obviously good on the deep balls," Belichick said. "But he is good on catch-and-run plays. He can take those intermediate routes or crossing routes and turn a 10, 15-yard catch into 40. So, a hard guy to tackle, big, fast, very athletic."

If he can't go, the Bills will have to find other ways to try to manufacture yardage. 

Here's Thursday's practice participation report for the Patriots and Bills.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
TE Charles Clay (knee)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)

Blount: Belichick has had my back from the beginning

patriots-blount-091816.jpg

Blount: Belichick has had my back from the beginning

FOXBORO -- During the week, there are times when Bill Belichick and LeGarrette Blount will walk out to practice together, chatting, laughing, looking like old pals. On Sundays, Belichick will coach Blount like any other player, calling Blount by the same nickname Blount's teammates use for the 250-pound bruiser: "LG." After Thursday's win over the Texans, Blount ran for over 100 yards and two scores and earned special recognition from the head coach.

From the outside looking in, they are the Patriots version of the Odd Couple. One is a Hall of Fame, old-school, buttoned-up disciplinarian. The other is a care-free 29-year-old who spends chunks of his free time on Snapchat and Instagram, often taking pictures of his sneaker collection.  

But with Belichick, Blount's career has taken off. Undrafted in 2010 due in part to off-the-field issues, Blount bounced from the Titans to the Buccaneers, and in Tampa Bay, he found early success. He ran for over 1,000 yards as a rookie and followed that up by starting all 14 games in which he played during his second season. Having fallen out of favor with the coaching staff in 2012, he was traded to New England for return specialist Jeff Demps the following offseason. 

With the Patriots, Blount ran for 772 yards and a career-high seven scores, setting him up to sign a free-agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers before the start of the 2014 campaign. It was a turbulent few months for Blount, who was arrested for marijuana possession, served a one-game suspension, and then walked off the field during a game against the Titans, leading to his release. 

Who was there to scoop him up? Belichick, of course.

The Patriots moved quickly to re-sign Blount to a two-year deal, and Blount was very open about how thankful he was that the Patriots offered him another chance. Though it may seem like a head-scratching match, Blount enjoys playing for Belichick and he appreciates Belichick's frankness. There are no promises made, but expectations are laid out, and the onus is on the player to earn his role. At other stops, Blount felt as though he may have been misled. 

Belichick has leaned on Blount over the course of the first three weeks of this season much in the same way Blount leaned on the Patriots organization when he was looking for another chance to play in 2013 and 2014. With Tom Brady suspended, the Patriots have run the football more than any other team in the NFL, and Blount has recorded more carries than any other back in the league, helping them get out to a 3-0 start. 

On Thursday he was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for posting 298 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and he shed some light on the relationship he shares with his head coach.

"I have a really good relationship with Bill," Blount said. "I love Bill to death. He’s always had my back from the beginning, from the first time I met him. I think he’s probably going to have it forever. We just have a really great relationship. I like everything that he does, I respect him a lot. I think he’s going to go down in history as the best coach to ever coach this game."

And what about having your boss call you by a nickname? 

"Can’t complain if he calls you that," Blount said. "Because what’s LG stand for? Life’s good, right?"

Right now, for both Blount and Belichick, it can't get much better.