- Associated Press - Saturday, August 14, 2010

Albert Haynesworth was happy, and not just because Mike Shanahan let him out to play.

Turns out he likes the Redskins’ new 3-4 defense. He really likes 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. “They allow me to pass rush and everything like that, which is really important to me.”

Who would have thought it? All that fretting, all those missed workouts, and now Haynesworth decides the defense he swore he couldn’t play in seems to be all right after all?

He actually gets to rush the passer? Didn’t someone tell him that was why he was paid a $21 million bonus earlier this year?

More importantly, didn’t Haynesworth ever bother to find out what the new defense was all about before he began pouting about it?

Apparently not, but after just one exhibition game, everything seems to be fine again in Haynesworth land. Sure, he played second string nose tackle, but at least Shanahan didn’t make him run another conditioning test during warmups before allowing him on the field.

Not only that, but Haynesworth seems to have figured out that his responsibility is to play, and Shanahan’s responsibility to run the team.

“He’s the head coach. I’m a player,” Haynesworth said after the Buffalo game. “That’s what it is.”

That’s a switch from last season when even the coach didn’t seem to know who was in charge. Jim Zorn was a nice enough guy and popular with the players, but owner Dan Snyder cut his legs out from underneath him and he was a lame duck who had no authority on either side of the ball.

No one questions the authority of the new coach. Especially not after Shanahan crushed Haynesworth in a test of wills to begin the season by not allowing him to practice for 10 days until he passed his conditioning test.

There’s a new vibe in the nation’s capital, and it was apparent Friday night in the Skins’ 42-17 rout of the Bills. New coach, new quarterback, new discipline, and some new hope for Redskins fans who have suffered ever since Snyder bought the team.

One meaningless exhibition game, yes. But it’s amazing how meaningful the game was for the Redskins, who scored more points than they have in any exhibition game in the last 22 years.

Haynesworth gave a glimpse of how dominant he might be, even in a new defense. The offensive line was solid, and Rex Grossman showed signs of being a decent backup quarterback.

And did I mention Donovan McNabb?

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