Pepper: Perception not reality with Big Al

August, 14, 2011
8/14/11
1:42
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson had met veteran defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth once before, but now that he's spent a few weeks working with him, he believes perception isn't reality when it comes to Haynesworth.

"He's very unlike a lot of what you read about," Johnson said Sunday as he subbed in for coach Bill Belichick as part of a daily news conference.

"I was thinking, 'What am I really going to have to deal with?' I'm coaching whatever player comes up in here, it doesn't matter to me, but Albert is a great guy. It's kind of hard to see some of the things you hear, negative about him, coming from that person. ... You need to know both sides of the story. I think Albert is a great person. He's been trying to work his way out on the field. He's been tremendous in the classroom to date. I'm expecting a lot from him."

Johnson was asked how much of a difference Haynesworth could make on the defense.

"I think he's excited about being here, he's excited about playing football, and of course, he's one of the best defensive linemen in the league so I'm quite sure he's going to make a big difference," he responded.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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