FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has a chance to elevate his game this weekend against the Steelers, whose physicality could bring the best out of the 6-foot-6, 350-pounder.
Haynesworth has been hit or miss through his first couple months with the Patriots, but he is coming off his most effective game against the Cowboys. Now that he's had an extra week to rest his back, he should be fresh for a matchup against Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who is as physical and ferocious as they come at the position.
Haynesworth is up for the challenge.
"I look forward to going up against anybody," Haynesworth said. "Anybody who is in my way, I look forward to it."
Haynesworth said he's still trying to work his way back to top form.
"I feel fine," Haynesworth said. "I've just got to keep working, knocking that rust off and getting back to the form where I was back in Tennessee."
This week should give Haynesworth the opportunity to showcase his true development. He's been hampered by a few nagging things, including the back and the knee, which has stunted his growth to an extent.
But a matchup against the Steelers always seems to bring the best out of a physical competitor. Without that type of effort, Pittsburgh's opponents find themselves on their backs and admiring the lighting at the top of the stadium.
"This is a very physical team," Haynesworth said. "They don't dance around. They're not finesse whatsoever. Everybody runs hard. They don't mind hitting. They like to hit. It's a very physical team, more physical than we've seen this year."
At his best, Haynesworth fits the same description. He's a force in the trenches who can physically outmatch anyone in his path. If he can impose that strength against the Steelers, this week could serve as a springboard for the rest of his season.