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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DT Haynesworth has positive impact on new team

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 07:52 AM
TAMPA -

With 47 snaps as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer behind him, Albert Haynesworth's redemption tour rolls into Lambeau Field this weekend.

Tampa Bay's 30-year-old defensive tackle, claimed off waivers from the Patriots last week, is trying to shed his reputation as a lazy but talented player who has lacked drive since signing a big free-agent contract with the Redskins in 2009.

In his Bucs debut, Haynesworth was credited with five tackles and a blocked extra point in Tampa Bay's 37-9 loss to the Texans.

"I wouldn't say it did anything for my confidence because I know what kind of player I was,'' Haynesworth said after his first start in almost two years. "When I looked at the film, I saw things I've got to improve on, but playing in this system is almost like getting back to what I did at Tennessee.''

After two Pro Bowl seasons with the Titans that featured 14-1/2 sacks, Haynesworth hit the free agent market and signed with the Redskins, bypassing the Bucs. A simmering feud with Washington coach Mike Shanahan boiled over last December when the Redskins suspended Haynesworth without pay for the final four games.

The Patriots traded for Haynesworth when the lockout ended in July, but he played sparingly in New England before his release from a defense that had yielded the most yards in the league.

"Albert's a great guy, almost like a coach around here,'' Bucs rookie defensive end Da'Quan Bowers said. "He comes and tells me little things in my ear to try to make me a better player. Everyone seems to think he has a negative attitude, but I haven't seen it. Hopefully, he stays positive and I think he will.''

With second-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy out for the year with a torn biceps, the Bucs were the only club to put in a claim for Haynesworth, listed at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds.

Tampa Bay coaches were impressed with his motor Sunday in a lopsided loss marked by lethargic efforts from several Bucs players.

"You can see guards and tackles getting blown off the ball,'' Bucs secondary coach Jimmy Lake said. "When we get to a point where we can get some third-and-long situations and get Albert pushing the pocket, I think you'll see some quarterbacks with big Albert in their face.''

Haynesworth has seven games remaining to prove he is a productive football player and a supportive teammate.

"I definitely hope to be here next year,'' he said. "Hopefully, they'll want me back. Going to Green Bay is going to be a great test to pass rush, get up the field and hopefully get Aaron Rodgers rattled. I'm looking forward to Sunday and Lambeau's an unbelievable place to play.''

New defensive line coach Keith Millard is hoping Haynesworth's huge presence in the middle can revive a pass rush that has registered only three sacks in the past five games.

"He's been awesome, great,'' Millard said. "Albert's been very positive and he's going to help us. We're lucky to have him. I thought he was disruptive and stout versus Houston. Overall, I was pleased with the way he played.''

Bucs coach Raheem Morris is well versed in Haynesworth's troubling back story. Ten days in, Morris likes what he sees.

"It's been shocking because of all the stuff we've all heard about,'' Morris said. "Since he's been here, Albert has been a pleasant surprise. He's into ball. He loves ball and he's been very communicative with me. Albert's in a happy place right now.''

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