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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It's up to Haynesworth to prove he's more than a Bucs stopgap

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:42 AM

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TAMPA -

Gentlemen, start your conditioning tests!

These are desperate times. This is a desperate team. They require desperate measures.

Meet a desperate man.

Meet Albert Haynesworth, all of him.

Haynesworth, once a $100 million centerpiece, is now a stopgap. Nearly out of chances at 30, he's still the brand-new Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle.

"This is where I should have been, like, three years ago, but all good things come to somebody that waits," Haynesworth said.

This is a large man. Thursday, he wore a large smile. Just by Albert showing up, Florida gets an extra electoral vote.

Actually, a lot of people have already voted.

The Redskins deemed Haynesworth worthless after two seasons and about $41 million. The Patriots gave him three months. When the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense can't use you, that's trouble.

The Bucs were among the high bidders when Haynesworth was a free agent in 2009. Now they're on the hook for peanuts. It's is a low-risk venture.

But a few people are shaking their heads. One of them takes the position of Bucs defensive tackle very seriously: Warren Sapp - 99 is down on Haynesworth.

"I knew what I was going after, I knew what I wanted," said Sapp, now an NFL Network star. "I wanted my name to be spoken among the greats. Albert Haynesworth just wanted a big check. He got it.

"I know this guy — he don't work. You can't live soft and fight hard."

Three months ago, Haynesworth called New England his last NFL stop.

Change of plans.

"I felt like I could still play and I just wanted to prove myself," Haynesworth said.

So here he is, with that nutty past, plus only a handful of tackles this season.

"If you're good enough, you'll get plenty of chances," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. "I'm glad he gets that chance here. We lost Gerald (McCoy). We had a huge void. It wasn't like there was anybody else."

Someone asked Haynesworth about his work ethic being questioned.

"I don't really understand all that," he said. "To me, any time you're on a football field, you've got another guy trying to knock your head off. 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. ... That's why I always play hard, because I'm my kids' role model. I just want to fight and show that you always keep fighting no matter what it is."

He added the reason he didn't pick Tampa as a free agent was he was worried about all that sun and water, and he had new boat, all the distractions from football, you know? His comments were either refreshingly honest or extremely worrisome. We'll get back to you.

Thursday, his first practice, apparently went well.

"A conditioning test in Tampa would be going out and making it through practice," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "It is steaming hot out there, and he had a sweat bag on, he worked through it …"

"I'll be playing OK this year, then next year when I get back with my trainer, then you're going to see '07 and '08, all those guys, jumping over the piles and all that crazy stuff," Haynesworth said.

A sweat bag?

Meet Albert.

He's here to help.

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