July 28, 2010

ASHBURN, Va. -- You could clearly see the makings of a peace accord between the Washington Redskins and their $100 million headache named Albert Haynesworth taking shape here Wednesday afternoon.

At a pre-training camp luncheon held with the media at Redskins Park, new Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said he was "very pleased'' with Haynesworth's mindset after meeting with his star defensive tackle Wednesday morning. Haynesworth indicated he'll report to camp with the rest of his teammates on Thursday, and made no mention of the trade request he issued in June.

But Shanahan also said that talk is cheap this time of the year, and only offered a "we'll see'' when asked if Haynesworth would be a Redskin this season. Haynesworth's actions once he arrives in camp will tell the story, Shanahan said. Haynesworth blew off all but one day of the Redskins' offseason workout program because he doesn't want to play the nose tackle slot in the Redskins new 3-4 defense. Haynesworth won't be running with the team's first-string defensive line to start camp, Shanahan said, until he passes a conditioning test on Thursday morning and proves he's up to speed.

"I'll see as time goes on,'' Shanahan said. "It's easy to talk. But we'll see what kind of shape he is in, and see how committed he is. But he's here, he's ready to go and he looks in good shape. We'll get a chance to find out.

"Our conversation went well. We're going to give him every opportunity to show us what he can do. Hopefully he'll like the position we're playing him and he'll give us everything he's got. We expect him to play at a high level.''

The best news Wednesday if you're a Redskins fan is that Haynesworth has been in contact with new Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett over the past couple weeks, and the two also met face-to-face Wednesday morning at Redskins Park. Haslett said Haynesworth is "so far behind that he's got a lot of catching up to do,'' but there is renewed hope within the Redskins organization that the relationship between player and team can be salvaged.

Part of the reason for the optimism is that Haynesworth now seems more open to playing in the 3-4 defense, and has expressed his willingness to commit. In reality, Haslett said he may be able to play Haynesworth at defensive end a majority of the time if veteran nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu is healthy enough to start the season in that position after missing all of 2009 due to an Achilles injury. In that scenario, Haynesworth would be at end on first and second down, before sliding inside on third downs or obvious passing situations.

"He's got to come in and be part of the group,'' Haslett said at the media luncheon. "We're going to have to spend some extra time together. I really don't know, but I think he's going to be all right. Right now I can go out there and take the whole group and I can call anything on our board and they'll play it. But he's got some catching up to do.

"It all depends on what he can grasp. He's going to have to play some nose and he's going to have to play some end, and I think he understands that. He understands he should come in and play hard. I think he's going to like the scheme, I really do. There's a lot of things that go on in it, a lot of movement. It's kind of made for what he does. He's athletic guy, and it kind of fits him.''

The biggest question regarding Haynesworth's role might be how easily his teammates re-embrace him? Middle linebacker London Fletcher and others harshly criticized his no-show routine this spring and summer and called him out for putting himself above the team. Haslett said the damage that has been done is real, and won't go away overnight.

"I think it does [take time], and I think it's important what players feel about their teammates,'' Haslett said. "But I do think teammates are forgiving. If he does come in and do his job, because all they want, like anyone else, is for him to come in and produce and be the guy you're supposed to be. I don't think it'll be a big deal if he comes in and does what he's supposed to do. It will be if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do.''

If Haynesworth falls in line, produces on the field and helps the Redskins win in any role asked of him, this offseason controversy will undoubtedly fade. But there are miles to go before Haynesworth crosses those thresholds.

"They're hoping Albert's in great shape and buys into his responsibility and helps his team win,'' Shanahan said of the Redskins. "Our players will accept that. But you have to buy in and play the way we want it to be played, and if he does that he can help us win.''

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)