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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' Albert Haynesworth reflects, looks ahead



Bucs defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth didn’t have what you might consider a stellar season. And if you ask him, he’ll admit it.

“This year right here, you’ve probably seen me at my worst,” Haynesworth said. “I mean just as far as my play. I still did some good things, but I just think that next year I’ll be a hell of a lot better, back closer to my ’08 form.”

But will he even play here next year? Given Monday's major news, a conversation I had with Haynesworth on this point was lost in the shuffle.

Anyhow, this is very much an open question for several reasons. As Haynesworth points out, he didn’t excel for the Bucs after the Patriots released him and Tampa Bay claimed him off waivers following Gerald McCoy’s biceps injury. He was a considerable factor in several games but he had minimal impact in others, a result of knee pain and, arguably, a lack of conditioning.

Haynesworth, in seven games with the Bucs, had 20 tackles. He attributed his dropoff this season to circumstances. Haynesworth was on three different rosters in 2011.

“It was just me not having a good offseason, worrying about whether I was going back to the Redskins, all that stuff,” he said.

“One day before reporting to (training) camp, I get traded (to New England), then I’m there trying to learn that system and dealing with that. I had a lot on my plate and a lot on my mind. Then I got here and it kind of freed me up to get back to how I play. So as time went on, I got more comfortable in the system and things got a little easier.”

Haynesworth said he would like to return to the Bucs next season, and he is under contract for 2012. But that’s a question for general manager Mark Dominik and whoever replaces coach Raheem Morris, who was fired Monday.

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Haynesworth is due $6.7 million for next season plus an Aug. 1 roster bonus of $400,000. Equally important is the question of whether the Bucs can look past his reputation for not playing and practicing with maximum effort and playing without discipline.

If they’ll have him, Haynesworth is ready to remain a Buc.

“I would love to come back,” he said. “I like the team, I like the location, I like the facilities. It would be great. I think upper management is doing good and I really enjoy it here. I wish I’d have come here three years ago.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2:14pm]


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