Good thing the Eagles are expecting Jason Peters to return and Todd Herremans to make his 2009 debut on Monday night against the Redskins. The two will have their hands full with one of the league's elite defensive tackles in Albert Haynesworth. Despite missing the last two days of practice with an ankle injury, Haynesworth is expected to suit up Monday night.
The Eagles have been fortunate in the past not to cross the path of Haynesworth often. Named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl last season, the 6-6, 350-pound Haynesworth spent the first seven years of his career in Tennessee. The last time the Eagles took on Haynesworth was in November 2006. The game will forever be remembered as being the one where Donovan McNabb tore his ACL. Haynesworth remembers the game because it was his return from an NFL-imposed five-game suspension for stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode with his spiked cleat.
This past off-season, Haynesworth signed a seven-year deal worth a reported $100 million with the Redskins to revamp their defensive line. While the record might not back the heavy investment, Haynesworth has 29 tackles, 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery for the league's fifth-best defense. However, the Redskins are 2-4 and all of their games were against previously winless opponents.
"We just have to find ourselves and come and expect that we can beat a good team," Haynesworth said. "It doesn't really matter that they're winless. At some point everybody's winless. You have to remember these guys are getting paid just like we are. They're in the NFL just like we are. They have a job to do too."
Haynesworth is extremely athletic for his immense size. He can clog the gaps against the run. He can collapse the pocket against the pass. And the Redskins take advantage of his versatility by moving him between tackle and end. In the base 4-3, he'll play right defensive tackle. In the nickel, they have at times put him at right defensive end.
Even though they haven't faced off often, Haynesworth has immense respect for the Eagles offense. Even after last week's dissappointing showing against the Raiders, the Eagles are still sixth in the league in points per game.
"(Donovan) McNabb is a crafty, experiened quarterback that can still move and still throw the deep ball," Haynesworth said. "(Brian) Westbrook, I think, is one of the most dangerous guys out there. If I had to pick running backs for my fantasy team, it's going to be Westbrook and (Vikings RB Adrian) Peterson, definitely."
Haynesworth will have his chance to prove his worth in front of a national audience on Monday night. Some of the people he might be trying to impress the most are the ones he used to play for. After winning 13 games last season, the Titans are 0-6 to start 2009.
"I'm no longer a Tennessee Titan, I'm a Washington Redskin. As far as that goes, I can't really help them there," Haynesworth said. "They made their choice."
--Posted by Chris McPherson, 7:50 a.m., October 24