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Rise and shine

Haynesworth set to awaken 'sleeping giant'

Albert Haynesworth hasn’t played a regular-season game since Nov. 28. Albert Haynesworth hasn’t played a regular-season game since Nov. 28. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / September 9, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Albert Haynesworth hasn’t played a regular-season game since last Nov. 28.

He was a member of the Redskins then, in the midst of a deteriorating situation. In the 42 days Haynesworth has been a member of the Patriots, he has seemed determined to change his image.

Yesterday, Haynesworth said he is ready to reintroduce himself to the NFL, and his first chance will be in Monday night’s opener against the Dolphins. Haynesworth is entering his 10th season, and said he is most looking forward to this opener.

“Last year, I didn’t think I was going to play because I was playing a lot of scout team,’’ he said. “Now I’m in the system and I’m playing and practicing. I think it’s time for me - I guess, the sleeping giant - to awaken and go back out there on the field and play football again.’’

Haynesworth said his two seasons with the Redskins felt like lost years as he struggled to find common ground with the organization. When the Redskins transitioned to a 3-4 defense, Haynesworth wasn’t on board with the move. He failed conditioning tests in training camp, and was suspended by coach Mike Shanahan for the final four games of the regular season for refusing to follow instructions from coaches. Haynesworth was inactive the week after the Redskins played the Vikings on Nov. 28, missing the final five games.

Since he joined the Patriots, Haynesworth has felt inspired.

“I read what you guys wrote - I mean, nothing personal - but I didn’t do much in D.C., and the scheme didn’t fit me and stuff, so now I can go out there and play and I can get back to what I used to do,’’ Haynesworth said.

With signs pointing to the Patriots shifting to a 4-3, Haynesworth feels comfortable. He made his Patriots debut in the final preseason game against the Giants, playing about 14 snaps.

“I like everything, we’re just getting after it,’’ Haynesworth said. “Coach [Bill] Belichick is a great coach and he uses what he has.’’

Haynesworth has not missed practice recently, and said he is hearing praise from the coaching staff about his progress.

“I’m feeling good,’’ Haynesworth said. “I talk to my coaches and they said, ‘Since the day you got here, you’ve been improving and getting better and better.’ I still have work to do to get to where I want to be, but it’s coming along great.’’

Haynesworth is enjoying his new teammates and the chance to start over, and is learning from defensive line coach Pepper Johnson.

“If you go to work hating your job, you’re not going to perform at your best, but if you come to work and you enjoy being around the people that you work with, you’ll give it your all,’’ Haynesworth said.

Haynesworth now feels like part of a family.

“Everybody’s for you, no matter what happens,’’ he said. “If a guy does something or whatever, it doesn’t matter, we’re all behind him and we’re not going to pass judgment or anything like that. It’s all about everybody being for you and everybody having your back.

“All you’ve got to do is play football.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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