LANDOVER, Md. -- After playing nose tackle in the Redskins' new 3-4 defense for the first time -- albeit on the second string, and in an exhibition game -- Albert Haynesworth is coming around to the idea.
"It's different, but I like it. It's something I've got to get used to, but other than that, it's going to be a good defense," Haynesworth said after Washington's 42-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a preseason opener Friday night. "They allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is really important to me."
The man with the $100 million contract played two first-half series with the second unit. In the locker room, he then took questions from reporters for a few minutes, something he hadn't done since last season.
Haynesworth skipped offseason workouts because he wanted a trade so he wouldn't have to play in the 3-4 defense being installed by new head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Then the Redskins didn't let him practice at training camp until he passed a conditioning test -- something the lineman managed to do on the 10th day of camp.
Even once he managed that, Haynesworth was told he'll be a backup until he earns his way back into the starting lineup.
"Whatever they want me to do, man. I'm just going to keep playing. I know I'm a good player," Haynesworth said, "and eventually I'll be with the first team."
He showed how disruptive he can be simply by lining up Friday, when Buffalo's offensive line was called for two false starts while he was in the game. He took up space and blockers and, on one play, allowed rookie linebacker Perry Riley to break through and force quarterback Trent Edwards to rush a throw.
"He's a big presence there. The more time he gets, the more comfortable he's going to get with the defense," defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. "So I think he did a good job overall coming out there and playing, with a short period of practice. So he'll be fine. More practice, he'll be even better."
Asked to assess Haynesworth's play Friday night, Shanahan replied: "I need to get a chance to evaluate him on film over the next 24 hours."
Haynesworth had high praise for Haslett, saying, "It's great to have him on my side to help me with the defense."
As for his relationship with Shanahan?
"He's the head coach. I'm a player. That's what it is," said Haynesworth, who declined to answer a question about the conditioning test.
He said he's still getting used to the lateral movement required at nose tackle in a 3-4, as opposed to the more upfield work he did in the 4-3 that made him a two-time All-Pro with the Tennessee Titans. But he also thinks the new system will give him a chance to avoid some of the double-teaming he often faced in the past.
"I think it's going to be a great defense, the way we rush and the way we get after people. I mean, they're not going to be able to run the ball on us," Haynesworth said. "So they're going to have to pass, and that's going to free me up for one-on-ones, and hopefully I can have a good season."