FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson had some reservations about Albert Haynesworth when he heard the team had acquired him. But Johnson kept a clear mind, and he's been happy to get to know Haynesworth on a first-hand basis.
"He is very unlike a lot of what you read about," Johnson said Sunday. "I was thinking, 'What am I really going to have to deal with?' I'm coaching every player that comes up in here. It doesn't matter to me, but Albert is, God, he's a great guy. I mean, it's kind of hard to see some of the things that you hear [that are] negative about him coming from that person. But I've seen him in other aspects. … Some of the stuff, you need to know both sides of the story. I think Albert is a great person. He's been trying to work his way out onto the field. He's been tremendous in the classroom. I expect a lot from him."
Haynesworth has only participated in four practices (three in full pads), and he has been limited through each of the sessions due to the health of his knee and his conditioning, both of which have been closely monitored by the team. When he was shut down through each of those practices, he stayed to the side with Johnson and learned about the defense while his teammates were active in drills.
Haynesworth hasn't practiced since Aug. 4 — missing seven sessions and the preseason opener since then — but Johnson is optimistic that the team's big-time addition will pay dividends when he gets back onto the field.
"He's one of the best defensive linemen in the league," Johnson said, "so [there's] no question he's going to make a big difference when we get out on the field."