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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Albert Haynesworth energized by chance to play for Buccaneers



Newly-acquired defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, fresh off his first workout with the Buccaneers, expressed optimism about his chances for success in the Tampa Bay defense, saying he’s excited about playing in coach Raheem Morris’ defensive system.

Having a chance to return to the “3 technique” defensive tackle position he played so dominantly for the Titans three years ago, Haynesworth relishes the opportunity.

“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.”

After a tumultuous two-year stint in Washington marked by acrimony with coach Mike Shanahan, and an 8-week stretch with the Patriots that ended with his release on Tuesday, Haynesworth has much to prove. He spoke highly of the New England organization but felt he had more to offer than the limited role he had.

“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."

[Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 2:17pm]


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