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Ellis, Haynesworth’s teammate in college at Tennessee, thought his football-related behavior in Washington was out of character.

“It surprised me,” said Ellis, another newcomer after spending his other 11 NFL seasons with the New York Jets. “I talked to him a couple of times over the offseason a couple of the years. I could just see he was very frustrated. He wasn’t happy. So now he seems like he’s very relaxed. He’s ready to go play some ball.”

Haynesworth played in just one of the Patriots‘ four preseason games. That was enough for him going into the regular season, he said.

“I’ve been out there practicing a lot and I’m getting the feel of the defense,” he said. “I’m still a little bit rusty, but I had nine other years, or really seven other years, to help me get to the point to where I think I could be fine with that.”

Especially in an environment where, he said, he really wants to work.

“If you ever go to work hating your job, you’re not going to perform at your best,” Haynesworth said, “but if you enjoy coming to work and you enjoy being around the people that you work with, you give it your all.”

So the sleeping giant seems eager to chase quarterbacks and stuff runners.

“He’s a giant,” Ellis said. “He’s a pro, man. Pros adapt to whatever they have to go through.”

Shanahan probably would differ with that description of his former headache. But now Haynesworth has a fresh start with a new coach who, like his old one, has little tolerance for slackers.

“I didn’t do much in D.C. The scheme didn’t fit me,” Haynesworth said. “Now I can go out there and play and I can get back to what I used to do.”