|November 14th, 2006|
Suspension ends for Titans' Haynesworth info
TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Albert Haynesworth looks like he stayed in shape during the NFL's longest-ever suspension for an on-field act. That doesn't mean he will be back on the field immediately.
The Tennessee Titans have more questions for the defensive tackle who worked out Monday morning at the team's headquarters for the first time in six weeks. Hayneworth met briefly with coach Jeff Fisher, who said he expected Haynesworth to be back after Tuesday's off day.
"If things go smoothly between now and Wednesday morning, then I would say it's fair to assume he'll be rejoining the team Wednesday morning," Fisher said.
But the Titans still have unresolved issues with the defensive tackle who swiped his cleated foot across Dallas center Andre Gurode's unprotected face in a game Oct. 1. The team couldn't talk to him during the suspension and says it is still gathering information before letting him rejoin practices.
"There's a lot of things we need to make sure have been sorted out. I can't go into detail. I will after ... the process is completed," Fisher said.
The coach said Haynesworth, a five-year veteran who was their top draft pick in 2002, appeared to be in good shape and apparently kept his weight under control. Haynesworth's weight had been a problem in his early years; he's listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds.
"We discussed some things," Fisher said. "However, at this point, the organization is still gathering more information."
The coach would not specify what kind of information he, general manager Floyd Reese and chief operating officer Steve Underwood want to know. Asked if that would include whether Haynesworth has undergone anger management counseling, Fisher said he would go into details when he can.
A former player himself, Fisher has not tried to hide his anger at Haynesworth's actions. He refused to comment on Haynesworth early in the suspension or even speak his name in recent weeks.
"This issue at hand right now is to complete the fact gathering and all the information and finish all those things," Fisher said.
He also expects Haynesworth, who has not talked publicly since a news conference on Oct. 5, to talk before practicing Wednesday.
Haynesworth has been a problem child for years.
He took a metal pole back onto the practice field while in college at Tennessee, looking for a teammate he had fought. He fought with teammates in the NFL, even kicking Justin Hartwig in the chest in 2003.
But the defensive tackle apologized and said even he could not explain why he tried to smash Gurode's head, leaving him needing 30 stitches to repair his slashed face.
The Titans have a one-week exemption for Haynesworth to practice without counting toward the 53-man roster. They will have to decide Saturday whether to add him to the roster before playing at Philadelphia on Sunday.
With receiver David Givens' season ended by a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the Titans can place him on injured reserve and clear a roster spot for Haynesworth. The tackle is under contract through next season and has started the last 28 games he played.
Statistically, Tennessee (2-7) didn't miss Haynesworth that much. The Titans signed Tony Brown to fill Haynesworth's spot, and the lineman has played well. Haynesworth remains under contract through next season.
The Titans were 0-4 with him and ranked 31st in the NFL in total defense after losing to Dallas 45-14 on Oct. 1, and dead last against the run. Now they are last in the league, allowing 374.3 yards, and are next-to-last in run defense.