Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/10/11
TAMPA Albert Haynesworth faced a throng of reporters and TV cameras crowding around his new Tampa Bay Buc locker Thursday and succinctly summed up his life in the not-so-fast lane since 2009. "This is where I should have been like three years ago," he said. The one-time dominant defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans had a chance to play for the Bucs in '09. But something made him spurn a reported 120-million, seven-year offer from the club instead opting to sign for 20-million less with the Washington Redskins. "You want to know the truth on that one?" he said, smiling. "(The area) was too pretty. It was too much water, too much sun here. I had just bought a nice, big boat and I really thought if I came here I'd mix my time in with football and boating. When I was at Tennessee, (I played football) during football season, and the off-season I did the boating and played around with all my toys. "That's honest. I should have trusted myself, but I was kind of scared." What's to keep him from doing that now? "It's gonna cost me to fill up that boat," he said. "It's good that the gas prices are going up." Now the question is whether Haynesworth still has sufficient gas in his tank. The Bucs are banking that he does, and the former Pro Bowler is glad he suddenly has the chance to prove it. Haynesworth, 30, wouldn't say how much Tampa Bay offered him three years ago ("I don't remember, I'm old now got too many concussions."), but he did confirm that they made him an offer. And it's clear now he wishes he'd accepted it. His first year under embattled Redskins head coach Jim Zorn fell short of expectations four sacks and 37 tackles in 12 games. But then the bottom fell out in 2010, when new head coach Mike Shanahan asked Haynesworth to move from the comfort of a 4-3 defensive alignment to the nose tackle position in a new 3-4 defense. You know the rest: the prized free-agent acquisition skipped workouts, feuded endlessly with Shanahan and was eventually suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team," effectively ending his Redskin tenure. Then came his frustratingly uneventful stint in New England, starting this summer and ending Tuesday when the Patriots waived him. Haynesworth, who came into the league with the Titans in 2002, had been quoted saying that the Pats would be his last team. So what changed and led to his unexpected arrival with the franchise he'd passed up? "I felt like I could still play, and I just wanted to prove myself (with the Bucs)," he said. "It 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, get more reps. And the more reps, the more plays I'd get, the better I'll get. But I just wasn't getting a lot of reps. So they made the decision to let me go." Haynesworth attributed his lack of work to a combination of factors: "Some of it might have been health issues (he missed two games with a back injury). Some of it was we had a lot of defensive linemen. We would switch different things depending on what scheme we played. Some teams we played, the scheme we were playing didn't really fit me that well." But Haynesworth, a massive 6-foot-6, 350-pounder, is anxious to bring his mix of bulk and speed to the line as a replacement for second-year tackle Gerald McCoy, who was lost for the season on Sunday in New Orleans with a torn right bicep. Haynesworth enjoyed his best two seasons in the NFL in 2007 and 2008 in a "one gap" role with the Titans, making 40 tackles with six sacks and 51 tackles with 8.5 sacks respectively. After practicing Thursday, he said he felt good physically ready to play whatever role he's asked to 1 p.m. Sunday against red-hot Houston. "I think I can be pretty effective," he said. "I'm an older guy and I think they brought me here to play hard and also to teach some of the younger guys how to play be somewhat of a mentor, (showing them how) to get off the ball and disrupt and show them how good it really is: that the grass ain't greener on the other side always." Haynesworth's teammates appear just as happy to have him around as he is to be here. "I'm excited to see what he can do for our team," said rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn. "(The first day) went good. He's a veteran. He knows stuff that I don't know. He gave us advice and helped us out just stuff on pass rush. He's pretty good at it. He gave us a few pointers on stuff that will help us win on Sunday." Haynesworth also gives the Bucs the option of having two behemoths on the interior line, when he lines up alongside big Frank Okam, a 6-5, 350 tackle who specializes in stopping the run and clogging the middle. "He's obviously a guy who comes in with having a reputation for being a great player in this league," Okam said. "I know when I was with the Texans he was with Tennessee, so he knows that offensive line pretty well. He has a pretty good book on each guy we're going against. Anytime you have a guy who you know has done it, it helps bring that room together. We're obviously a young group, and he's the veteran of the group now. So automatically he's kind of thrust into that leadership role." But Haynesworth comes with a reputation of not always giving his full effort in recent years. He took issue with that, however. "I don't really understand that, because any time you're on a football field, you've got another guy trying to knock your head off," he said. "You think you're not going to play (hard)? That's not me. The reason I'm so aggressive is I never want my kids see their dad lose. I'm not talking about a game, but getting knocked back or doing things that will embarrass you. That's why I always play hard, because I'm my kids' role model, and I want to show them to always keep fighting, no matter what it is." Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was pleased with Haynesworth's first day on the job. "He did a nice job coming out to practice he made it through practice and picked up the system and did a lot of good things for us today," Morris said. Morris said he has determined how much Haynesworth will play Sunday. "He's been in a couple of different places and knows a couple of different systems," Morris said. "He's back into a system where he can get off the ball and cause disruption." Morris didn't seem concerned about Haynesworth's level of effort. "It'll be very important for him to come out here and have a lot of success with his teammates and his coaches," Morris said. "We just have to try to provide an atmosphere that he can succeed in." It's been a rocky journey to get to this point. But Haynesworth is philosophical about that. "I think all good things come," he said, "to somebody who waits."
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