MIAMI -- The sleeping giant awoke Monday, but turns out he wasn't in a particularly destructive mood just yet.
Playing his first regular-season game as a member of the New England Patriots, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth registered a modest night with just two tackles while rotating snaps on the defensive line in a 38-24 win at Miami. He helped pressure Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne (though he didn't log any of New England's 10 quarterback hits or four sacks).
Haynesworth was content to be back contributing on the football field.
"It felt like football," he said. "It felt good, felt real good to be on the field, felt good to get a victory in the first game, and it also felt good for our offense to score a lot of points to save the defense.
"It's always good to feel needed. Always good to get out there and play and earn my check."
Haynesworth didn't start, but appeared on nine first-quarter snaps (including penalties). He raved about New England's ability to swap out defensive lineman but admitted he's still knocking rust off and he still has a long way to go to be where he wants.
Asked about the biggest difference between playing in New England and Washington, Haynesworth couldn't resist a playful jab at his former team.
"We won," he said with a smile. "No, I actually played, too."
Watching Tom Brady pass for a Patriots record 517 yards, Haynesworth was happy to be on the same sideline as the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player.
"I'm glad not to be on the other side of the ball, I'll tell you that much," said Haynesworth. "Against him -- shoot, I thought (being on the same team) was a dream."
Chris Forsberg covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.