FOXBOROUGH -- The progress of Albert Haynesworth has been incremental at best. He has not recorded a tackle since Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, missed two games with back issues and has not made the expected impact since the Patriots acquired the disgruntled defensive end from the Washington Redskins.
As the season kicks into the middle stretch, however, Haynesworth seeks more production and the opportunity to return to his dominating force of years ago.
"I feel fine, I just gotta keep working and get that rust off and get back to that form I was in Tennessee," he said before Patriots' practice Tuesday. "I think we’re OK (as a defensive line). Were on the up and up. I think we need to get better but I think we’re headed that way.”
Haynesworth was asked about the additions of defensive lineman Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick from the physically-unable-to-perform list.
“Heck yeah (Ron and Brandon) can help us,” he said. “I watched film of them last year and they really can play. They’re strong, powerful young guys who can play the game.”
It’s Steelers week, of course. And Haynesworth has faced mammoth Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice in his career. The Steelers, after getting pounced by Baltimore in the season opener, have won five of six games, including three in a row.
“They're a good team,” Haynesworth said. “They're kinda of like what they were a year ago and better. They're not a slouch or anything like that. They got a three-game winning streak so far. They're a strong team. They're definitely going to be in the postseason this year.
“This is definitely a top team, so this is a measuring stick for us to see how good we are and how good we can play.”
And he had nothing but respect for Roethlisberger, who has passed for 1,937 yards and 12 touchdowns this year.
“Even if you hit (Roethlisberger) it doesn’t mean you are going to take him down,” he said. “He's a guy that could break a lot of tackles and get away from the rush. Even if you are hitting him and he's going down, he still can throw the ball. With him you definitely have to emphasize finishing the rush and finishing the tackle because he can still get away.
“He’s still a very good quarterback, a great quarterback. The guy’s won a lot of Super Bowls and he’s played a lot of football. So that makes him even more dangerous.”