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Friday, July 30, 2010
Haynesworth camp saga drags on

Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- Early Friday morning, the cones were lined up 25 yards apart on the field for Albert Haynesworth's conditioning test. He needed to complete the first part in 70 seconds or less to have a chance to pass.

He clocked 71.

Another failed effort. Once again, the two-time All-Pro defensive tackle was not allowed to participate in practice at Washington Redskins training camp.

Albert Haynesworth
Albert Haynesworth will try again Saturday to pass a conditioning test in order to begin practicing with the Redskins.

And so the Haynesworth saga drags on. By now, some coaches or organizations would have worked out some sort of a behind-the-scenes compromise in the name of team harmony and good publicity, especially with one measly second hanging in the balance. Not Mike Shanahan. The rules are the rules are the rules for the Redskins new coach, no matter who the player is.

"Either you play by the rules, you're gone or you'll get fined, one of the two," fullback Mike Sellers said. "He's a no-nonsense guy. A lot of the vets around here who are pretty much old-school guys appreciate it."

Perhaps Haynesworth didn't see it coming, especially after spending last season under laid-back, player-friendly coach Jim Zorn. Or perhaps he thought by now he'd be playing for another team. Or perhaps he'd heard stories about the "star treatment" given to Redskins players such as Michael Westbrook, Bruce Smith and Clinton Portis over the years.

Either way, Haynesworth has learned the hard way that going toe-to-toe with Shanahan is not a good idea: Shanahan is going to win.

"He wants to come in and put a lot of discipline in this thing," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "Discipline is the key."

So, for Haynesworth, the second day of training camp was much like the first. After failing the test, he was sent inside to do treadmill and agility work while the rest of the team practiced. After practice, Haynesworth emerged in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt and burgundy shorts and spent about 15 minutes walking through some plays with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett in order to learn the playbook.

A few fans yelled support as Haynesworth walked back to the building. He paused to sign a few autographs but did not speak to reporters.

The Redskins, however, took a different approach in explaining the whole thing. Shanahan had previously declined to reveal the details of Haynesworth's conditioning test, but on Friday the team sent out strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright to give a full breakdown.

Haynesworth, explained Wright, was the only player required to take the test because he was the only player not to attend 50 percent of the team's offseason workouts. However, the players did run the same drill as part of those workouts in the spring.

The test consists of 300 yards of sprints -- called a "shuttle" -- back and forth 25 yards at a time. It has to be run twice, with only a 3½-minute break in between. The short break demonstrates that the player can recover quickly. Linemen have to run the first shuttle in 70 seconds, the second one in 73 seconds.

Haynesworth clocked 70 seconds on the first shuttle when he tried to pass the test on Friday -- but he then violated the test's rules by taking an extended potty break.

"He had to use the restroom," Wright said. "You get 3½ minutes. He was gone close to 10."

So Haynesworth had to start all over again and failed.

On Friday, his first shuttle took 71 seconds, so there was no need to run the second one. He'll try again Saturday.

"He's learning how to run it," Wright said. "There's a pace you have to have, a certain tempo each 25 yards, and I expect him to pass it pretty soon."

Shanahan called the drill a "very minimal test" and that "most people could do this test in their sleep." He said he is confident Haynesworth will eventually pass.

"I don't want to put a guy out there before he's ready, before I know he's in shape," Shanahan said. "I know it's the best thing for him. He may not know that at this time, but I can guarantee you, the big linemen that I've been with, the guys that are in the trenches, they still need to be in shape."

But this is more about proving a point than proving someone's in shape. That was evident late in the afternoon, when Haynesworth wasn't even permitted to take part in the team's one-hour walkthrough in which the players wore baseball caps.

Haynesworth instead worked on conditioning drills near the field. At one point, he stood with hands on hips watching his teammates, looking like an exile who can't join the party. Asked by a reporter if his teammates were giving him a hard time, Haynesworth used a profanity and essentially said he didn't care.

Last year, Haynesworth would often take a knee at the ends of plays and would have to leave the game. He hasn't played 16 games in a regular season since he was a rookie in 2002, but he has noticeably slimmed down this year.

Haynesworth, entering the second year of a seven-year, $100 million contract, stayed away from the team's offseason program because he wanted to work with his own trainer and because he is unhappy with the switch to a 3-4 defense. He was hoping the Redskins would trade him rather than make him report to camp.

On Friday, Shanahan was clearly getting tired of having the Haynesworth matter dominate the opening days of camp. The coach wants to move on to other things.

"The next time we talk about this," Shanahan told reporters, "is when he's practicing with us."

Another rule -- and one that will no doubt be followed.