Albert Haynesworth saw his first game action as a New England Patriot. And he couldn't have been happier or more talkative, even calling his new home "a career-saving place for me to come."
The veteran defensive lineman, who clashed with Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan last season before being traded to the Patriots on July 28, started in his first game for New England on Thursday night and finished with three tackles.
"It was great," Haynesworth said after the Patriots' 18-17 loss to the New York Giants, according to the Boston Globe. "I need to knock off a lot of rust. I've kind of just been resting, sitting in D.C. I need to get back to that playing form that I had when I was with the (Tennessee) Titans."
Haynesworth has practiced sparingly in New England, but he insisted he isn't worried about his fitness.
"I felt good," Haynesworth said. "I ain't going to lie to you, my chest started burning. It was colder than I thought it was going to be. As far as football conditioning, I felt pretty good. I want to work on my explosion a little more, knocking people back at the line of scrimmage and getting after the quarterback more."
But the Patriots' defensive system? Haynesworth was downright giddy about that.
"What we do here -- which is pretty good and unbelievable and will help you -- is we rotate a lot," he said. "We had a lot of depth at Tennessee. Here, we have great depth. We have guys that can go to any other team and start.
So like (defensive line coach Pepper Johnson) tells us, 'Go as hard as you can for however many plays, and if that's three or four plays, do that, come out and we'll send in somebody else and send another wave of attack in.' I'm going to play as hard as I possibly can, and when I get gassed, I'm going to come out."
Many have questioned if Haynesworth can adapt to coach Bill Belichick and the Patriot way, but he seems to have entirely bought into it, saying: "To me, this is a career-saving place for me to come. I had no idea it would be like this, but it's unbelievable, and I wish I kind of took two years ago and came here."
Haynesworth had even higher praise for Belichick.
"I think he's a brilliant coach," Haynesworth said. "I always thought that from the time I got into the NFL and, definitely playing against him, I always thought he was an awesome coach. I always wanted to play for him, and 10 years later, here I am."
Perhaps most importantly, Haynesworth called football fun again after his rocky stint in Washington.
"It's not like you have to watch your back or anything like that. You know everybody is here for you," Haynesworth said. "I really enjoy that. I know my head coach is for me. I know my owner is for me. I know my players are for me. I feel relaxed. I'm having fun again. I'm having fun playing football again."
When asked why he missed a stretch of practices during training camp, Haynesworth said, "I know I ain't been here that long, but you got to talk to Coach Belichick about that."
And he was pretty forceful when asked if this was his last chance career-wise, what with the seven-year, $100 million contract he signed to leave Tennessee for Washington in February 2009. That deal included $41 million guaranteed.
"If I choose to go out there and play, like if God forbid, I got cut from this team, yeah, I know I can go out there and play for another team," said Haynesworth, who's 30. "But I feel like this is going to be the last place I want to play. If it doesn't work out here, then I'm not going to play anywhere else."