Haynesworth doesn’t practice
Belichick: Lineman ‘not quite ready’
FOXBOROUGH - While one of the Patriots’ high-profile acquisitions, Chad Ochocinco, was on the field yesterday, the other was not.
Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who was picked up via trade with the Redskins during the week, did not participate in the team’s first practice in full pads yesterday.
When coach Bill Belichick was asked about Haynesworth’s absence, he replied, “He’s not quite ready to practice yet.’’
Haynesworth, who is 6 feet 6 inches, 335 pounds, notoriously failed his conditioning test in 2010, the year after he signed a seven-year, $100 million contract. The Redskins traded him to the Patriots for an undisclosed draft pick.
It was made clear that Haynesworth’s absence was not related to him being one of the players who cannot participate until the league year begins Aug. 4. Belichick said the trade is official.
So, is Haynesworth injured?
“When he’s ready, he’ll be out there,’’ the coach said.
Belichick was asked if Haynesworth passed a conditioning test, and he said, “There are things we still need to do with Albert for him to be able to get on the practice field, and when those things are done, he’ll be out there.’’
Since news of the acquisition of the controversial Haynesworth broke, Belichick has been peppered with questions about how he assesses players and how much he considers any off-the-field issues. Until the trade was official, the coach would not speak directly about Haynesworth. But he offered a few thoughts yesterday.
“Well, I don’t think it was a big surprise that things weren’t great in Washington, I don’t think,’’ Belichick said. “But in any case, there’s no formula. All the trades we’ve been involved in through the years - the Ted Washingtons and the Corey Dillons and the Randy Mosses and all, each one is different. There’re always different dynamics that go into it.
“In the end, you just try to do what’s best for your football team. There are a lot of things you take into consideration. As we’ve seen in those two last transactions, there’re a number of steps that have to be taken, that’s all. So we just take each one and then if it all comes together, it does, and sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.’’
Faulk returns If running back Kevin Faulk was going to play his 13th season in the NFL, he wanted it to be with the Patriots. Yesterday, he got his wish.
Faulk, 35, ended last season a free agent and spent months rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in Week 2 against the Jets.
Unsure of what his future would be, Faulk received a reassuring phone call from Belichick before the lockout began.
“Bill called me and told me, ‘Look, Kevin, I want you on my team in 2011,’ and that was motivation enough for me to go out and rehab my butt off and get ready for the season, whenever it may be and whenever it may come. So, that was pretty much enough for me,’’ Faulk said.
Once Faulk realized the 2010 season was over for him, he knew he wanted to come back. He didn’t want the injury to be his last time on the field.
“That was my mind-set, but at the same time I knew I had to make the football team,’’ Faulk said.
About two months ago Faulk said he began feeling good about his knee and his ability to return to football. He relied on advice from teammates Tom Brady and Wes Welker about how to best recover from ACL surgery. During the lockout, Faulk didn’t have access to team doctors and turned to the staff at Louisiana State, where he played in college, to help him through the rehab.
“I credit [Welker] for the way he came back last year, how fast he came back, but he can tell you and Tom can tell you, for me, that was probably one of the toughest things - to have knee surgery and then have a lockout and not be able to see my trainers, [talk] with my trainers, and try to do rehab on my own,’’ Faulk said. “Credit to the LSU training staff . . . they helped me out a whole lot, but at the same time not being able to [talk] with my trainers over here, it was very hard.’’
The Patriots have eight running backs on their roster.
“Of course I watched the draft and while they were drafting running backs it didn’t faze me because that’s what this team does; they build a championship team and whatever they have to do, that’s what they’re going to do,’’ Faulk said. “And I’m a competitor. That’s why I play this game. I want to compete with the best in the NFL.’’
Wright is right Defensive lineman Mike Wright said that for the last five months he hasn’t felt any ill effects of the concussion he battled last season.
Wright was in the midst of a stellar year with a career-high 5 1/2 sacks before suffering a concussion 10 games into the season. Symptoms kept Wright off the field until he was placed on injured reserve.
“They’ve all subsided,’’ said Wright of the symptoms. “It’s been like that for about five months. I was fortunate because I wasn’t sure when it was going to clear up, so it gave me enough time to get ready.’’
Wright participated in practice yesterday and said he is eager to put last season behind him. But he was disappointed to hear about the release of Ty Warren, a player Wright said influenced him with his professionalism and character.
“It was [a surprise], I’ve known Ty for a long time and I’ve got a lot of respect for him, who he is, the man he was,’’ Wright said. “He was a great player and a great influence to me and a lot of other guys. I hate to see him go but I wish him well.’’
Pacing themselves Not everyone was able to participate in practice, as a few players continue to work at their own pace to rehab injuries.
Among those spotted in shorts and working out along the sidelines were: safety James Sanders, long snapper Matt Katula, lineman Marcus Cannon, lineman Mike Berry, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick, and safety Josh Barrett.
Players not seen were unsigned rookie draft picks, including offensive lineman Nate Solder, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, and running back Shane Vereen. Players not eligible to participate at practice until the first day of the league year (Aug. 4 at the latest) are Kyle Arrington, Logan Mankins, Faulk, and Sammy Morris. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be in that group once he signs his restricted free agent tender.
In addition to Haynesworth, defensive linemen Ron Brace and Myron Pryor did not participate.
Comings, goings The Patriots confirmed the signings of Faulk, Arrington, Morris, Mankins (franchise tender), and defensive lineman Steve Williams. They later announced that they re-signed defensive back Brandon McGowan and linebacker Tracy White, and released linebacker Anthony Leonard . . . The Patriots will hold two practices today, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both will be open to the public.
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.