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Albert Haynesworth praises Pats

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After his first practice Thursday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth praised Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his time in New England, but he suggested a lack of playing time was the driving force behind his release earlier this week.

"I felt like I could still play. I just wanted to prove myself," Haynesworth told the Tampa media. "There, it was a great place. Coach [Bill] Belichick is a great guy and it's a great system, but I just wanted to play more. I wanted to practice more, get more reps and the more plays I got the better I would get. I just wasn't getting a lot of reps, so they made the decision and let me go."

According to snap counts charted by ESPN Boston, Haynesworth appeared on a mere 133 defensive snaps, playing just 30.1 percent of total available snaps during his six appearances.

Haynesworth missed two games with a back injury and was rarely a full contributor in practice, being limited (11) or not participating (six) in 70.8 percent of the 24 official practices during his eight game weeks he was with the team.

"Some of it might have been health issues, some of it was that we had a lot of defensive linemen," Haynesworth said of his limited role. "We would switch different things depending on the team we played. Some teams that we had to play, the scheme we were running that week didn't really fit me that well."

During his three months in New England, Haynesworth constantly repeated a desire to "knock off rust" from a lack of game activity during his time with the Washington Redskins.

Asked about his conditioning on Thursday, Haynesworth noted: "It's good. That's what I wanted. I felt like I was in pretty good shape there but I just needed to get more plays. If I came out of the game to get a breather, maybe a few plays later I'd hope to get back in but there we didn't do that."

Haynesworth appeared to struggle mightily on his final full drive with the Patriots, getting put on the ground on three consecutive plays during one stretch.

He suggested Thursday that he still goes full throttle on plays in order to set a good example for his kids.

"To me, any time you're on the football field you've got another guy trying to knock your head off," said Haynesworth. "You're not going to play? That's just not me. Why I'm so aggressive is that I never want my kids to see their dad lose. I'm not talking about a game, just doing things that can embarrass you. That's why I always play hard because I'm my kids' role model and I just want to fight and to show them to always keep fighting no matter what it is."

Haynesworth said he was excited to be in Tampa, a spot he almost landed as a free agent a few years back. He said "all good things come to somebody that waits."

The Patriots might argue against that notion after his time here.

Chris Forsberg covers the Patriots and Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.