- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ASHBURN, Va. | There are times Albert Haynesworth wishes he were still playing for the Tennessee Titans.

There were times last year he felt like he was being used as a “showpiece” by the Washington Redskins.

He says the big misperceptions about him are that he doesn’t care about his team and that he no longer tries hard because he got his big payday.

And that embarrassing play Monday night when he stayed on the ground and didn’t get up while Michael Vick was scrambling around? The play that’s been viewed endless times on the Internet as an example of Haynesworth’s off-and-on effort? A play that pretty much summed up the Redskins‘ night in a 59-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles?

Apparently Big Al had a cramp. Or thought the play was over. Or both.

“I had, like, a charlie horse in my thigh or whatever,” Haynesworth said. “I thought I heard the whistle, so I kind of like stayed there for a second and gathered myself, and I looked up and … he’s still got the ball. I looked and he throws the ball for a touchdown.”

Haynesworth, who rarely speaks at length to the media, ruminated Wednesday about the good days with his old team and the challenging days with his new one as he prepares for his return trip to Tennessee with the Redskins on Sunday.

“Do they wish they still had me? Yeah,” Haynesworth said. “Sometimes I wish I was still back there — because I felt like I could still be dominant.”

Haynesworth left the Titans after seven seasons to sign a $100 million free agent deal with the Redskins last year. He was perhaps the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL during his last two years in Tennessee, but there were nagging questions whether he was a full-go player every down he was on the field — and whether he had stepped up his game in Tennessee just to get a big contract. Washington threw so much money at him that there was no chance of staying where he was.

“Look at the history,” Haynesworth said. “Jevon Kearse, Kevin Carter, all these guys, they never really paid any defensive linemen. No guy ever really finished there. I knew it was going to happen, and all I wanted to do was just go somewhere else and be appreciated and get to play the way I did.”

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans were interested in re-signing Haynesworth.

“He had his best year of his career,” Fisher said, “and we just didn’t get an opportunity.”

Haynesworth’s goal of being appreciated got off to a bad start in Washington. He was a disappointment last year for a 4-12 team under coach Jim Zorn, and he’s had a rocky relationship this year with new coach Mike Shanahan. There were differences over offseason workouts, conditioning tests and preseason playing time, but the crux of the issue was that Haynesworth didn’t want to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.

In recent weeks, the Redskins have given up trying. Haynesworth doesn’t play in the team’s base package anymore and enters the game with the nickel unit, usually as a pass-rushing defensive end.

“I’m starting to feel appreciated,” he said. “At first, last year, not really. I felt like I (was) just kind of like a showpiece to take up blocks and help the teammates, which, of course, I want, but as my teammates are playing good, I want to play good, too. I want to be able to get sacks and stuff, and that’s one thing (I did) at Tennessee.”

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