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Players Relieved Haynesworth Drama Has Ended


Fan Appreciation Day provided a circus atmosphere at Redskins Park, but in some ways that had been the case since Albert Haynesworth first reported to training camp and failed to complete his conditioning test.

Will he run? Will he fit in? Yes and yes. At last. Time to strike the big top.

Haynesworth completed his conditioning runs on Saturday morning, took part in a chunk of practice before the coaches shut him down as a precaution over his balky knee and the process of reinserting him in the lineup and the game plan took tentative steps forward.

Remember the rancor and irritation when he skipped the mandatory mini-camp last June?

Fading now, as everyone hopes to put the past few months to rest.

"It's great. I can't wait to see him actually going all of practice," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "He got a chance to do a little bit, a little bit of drills. Just in time for this first preseason game. Get him in a little better football shape and then we go bang."

It was Hall who had predicted that those who criticized Haynesworth would ultimately embrace him again.

He seems to be right, though nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu noted, "We didn't pop no champagne."

There was more charity elsewhere.

"This game is all about what have you done for me lately," guard Artis Hicks said. "Once this guy gets out there and he starts crushing quarterbacks, that's all that's going to matter and the rest of it is behind him. I know he's looking forward to getting on the field and going about his business because he's a dominant player."

Hicks played down the idea that the daily drama around the big defensive lineman interfered with progress or became a distraction.

"In-house it wasn't, because we've had our hands so full with having to learn this new system and do our jobs and that's all we've been focused on as players on this team. That was moreso in the outside world," Hicks said.

The timing of Haynesworth's re-emergence, defensive end Phillip Daniels said, was coincidental.

"I don't think he picked a particular day, like Fan Appreciation Day," he said. "It was time for him to run it. He just had to deal with the knee first. He wanted to get it out of the way. He's fine. I don't want to talk about that test anymore. I want to move forward and I know Albert can help us a lot."

In a sense, time had run out on day 10 of camp.

As defensive coordinator Jim Haslett put it: Haynesworth was going to pass the test or "he and I would have ended up fighting on the field."

Though Haynesworth spent part of the workout with his sore knee wrapped in ice, Haslett said he expected Haynesworth to practice Monday after the team has a day off on Sunday. He'll still need time to acclimate. When he can participate fully in drills, he'll begin at nose tackle and learn both end positions, Haslett said.

"He missed a lot of the off-season. You're talking about four months of catch-up," Haslett said.

Haslett spent much time after practice all week, working with defensive line coach Jacob Burney and Haynesworth on the rudiments of the 3-4 scheme. Teammates have said Haynesworth views this new alignment and his role in it more positively than he did when he skipped all but the first day of off-season voluntary work. All to the good.

"I think he likes it, I really do," Haslett said. "But you'd have to ask him."

That apparently must wait for another day. A calmer day. For now, the circus has left town.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at * and follow him on*

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