ASHBURN, Va. – Albert Haynesworth finally showed up for work — and quickly learned the Washington Redskins won't be cutting him any slack.
On the eve of the first day of training camp, Haynesworth ended his months-long boycott of the team by meeting Wednesday morning with coach Mike Shanahan. Hardly sympathetic to the plight of a player who recently received a $21 million bonus, the coach wasn't about to let bygones by bygones.
Shanahan said Haynesworth must pass a conditioning test in order to practice. And, assuming the test is passed, the two-time All-Pro defensive lineman with the $100 million contract won't be practicing with the starting unit, at least not right away.
"I'm expecting him to be in great shape," Shanahan said. "And if he's not in great shape, then we're going to do what we need to do to get him in shape.
"Once he gets to that point, hopefully he'll fit into our system and do the things we want him to do. Because, if he does, he can be an excellent football player for us. If not, we're going to be very good anyhow."
Asked if he expected Haynesworth to be a part of the team in 2010, Shanahan would only say: "We'll see."
"All I can do is tell you we're going to give him every opportunity to show us what we can do," the coach said. "Hopefully he'll like the position that we play him in and give us everything that he's got."
The "position that we play him in" is the main point of consternation for Haynesworth. He's unhappy with the Redskins' switch to a 3-4 defense and would rather play for another team. Shanahan was ready to grant that wish in February and March — but the door was shut once Haynesworth collected the $21 million bonus on April 1, part of the seven-year contract he signed a year earlier. The deal is part of the enduring legacy of a decade of bad offseason signings under owner Dan Snyder.
Thus Haynesworth continues to overshadow a team trying to turn a new page. By all rights, Thursday's start of training camp should be about Shanahan and new quarterback Donovan McNabb, but instead all eyes and ears will be on the disgruntled big man whom teammates called "selfish" when he skipped the mandatory minicamp last month. Even Shanahan said at the time that it was "really a shame that Albert has got so much attention for not showing up."
Haynesworth wants the freedom that helped make him a dominant player for many years with the Tennessee Titans and most certainly does not want to line up as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. The Redskins have said he should at least give the defense a chance.
Shanahan said he was "very pleased" with Haynesworth's mindset during their Wednesday meeting, which perhaps could signal of change of heart.
"The conversation went well," the coach said, "and now we'll get a chance to see exactly where we're at in the near future."
Shanahan said he did not ask Haynesworth about the litany of legal issues that have surfaced and resurfaced during the offseason. Among the headlines: lawsuits by a bank over a loan repayment and by a man injured in an automobile accident, accusations from Haynesworth's ex-wife that he hasn't paid bills, and an allegation from an exotic dancer that he got her pregnant.
"I have not addressed those issues with him," Shanahan said. "He's a grown man."
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