Albert Haynesworth practiced with his new Buccaneers teammates this morning; later in the day, he met with local media for the first time and some of his comments will be incredibly familiar to Patriots fans – because they’re almost the same ones he used when he first arrived here.
However, Haynesworth did take a bit of a swipe at the Patriots, saying he learned “the hard way” that not all 4-3 defenses are the same.
And of course, he again made it sound as though he wasn’t at all culpable when it came to his being released by the Pats.
Here are some of his comments, from the St. Petersburg Times blog:
On getting back to playing as a “3 technique” defensive tackle, as he did during his most productive years with the Titans. Haynesworth basically refused to play in a 3-4 last year in Washington and apparently wasn’t a fan of Bill Belichick’s four-man line here:
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. Just to get off the ball and wreak havoc. That’s awesome. Everybody can say, ‘Oh, you’re in a 4-3 defense.’ But just because you’re in a 4-3 defense doesn’t mean (it is) what I did in Tennessee.
“I guess I had to learn that the hard way.”
When asked about his time in New England and what went wrong here, Haynesworth simply said he wasn’t getting enough snaps, leading to his release. And he played to the fans there by saying he should have signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2009 – the Bucs were suitors back then – which almost the same thing he said in early September as a Patriot, when he claimed he’d give all of the money he got from the Redskins back if he could have been in New England for the previous couple of years.
“I felt like I could still play,” Haynesworth said. “I just want to prove myself. That was a great place. Coach (Bill) Belichick is a great guy and it’s a good system. But I just wanted to play more. I wanted to practice more and get more reps. The more reps you get, the better I’d get. I just wasn’t getting a lot of reps so they made the decision to let me go.”
Haynesworth said Tampa Bay coaches intend to play him on Sunday against Houston. Coach Raheem Morris said it was too early to know what role Haynesworth might fulfill, but he said the 30-year old veteran appears capable of playing time than he got in New England, roughly 30 to 35 snaps if necessary.
Haynesworth nearly landed in Tampa in the spring of 2009, when he declined the Bucs’ lucrative free-agent offer and opted to sign a $100 million deal with the Redskins. He admits that was a fateful decision.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This is where I should have been like three years ago. I think all good things come to somebody who waits.”
Haynesworth was criticized widely for a lack of effort and willingness to play within the confines of the Patriots’ defensive system. Asked about those questions, Haynesworth reacted with surprise.
“I don’t really understand that because, to me, anytime you’re on the football field, you have another guy trying to knock your head off,” he said. “You think you’re not going to play? That’s not me. Why I’m so aggressive is because I never want my kids to see their dad lose. I’m not talking about (losing) a game, but talking about getting knocked back or doing things that can embarrass you. That’s why I always play hard because I’m my kids’ role model and I just want to fight and show them to always keep fighting.”
We can only assume he’ll be hiding the game film from his nine snaps against the Giants last week from his kids…