Capital loss: Albert Haynesworth finds out who’s in charge

ASHBURN, Va. — Albert Haynesworth took the money. Now Mike Shanahan is forcing him to earn it. By making Haynesworth take a conditioning test Thursday and forbidding him to practice with the team after he failed the test, Shanahan continued to put his stamp on the Washington Redskins in his first season as coach.
 
Mike Shanahan's steely gaze focuses on improving the Redskins.
Mike Shanahan’s steely gaze focuses on improving the Redskins.

"He’s got to be at a certain level to practice with the rest of our football team," Shanahan said to a throng of reporters, chronicling another chapter of the battle between star player and star coach. "If he gets there, then he’ll be with us. If he doesn’t get there, then he won’t."

 
Here are three things to take from an eventful opening day of Redskins training camp:
 
1. Shanahan sends a strong message
Haynesworth showed up for camp and immediately got another memo that Shanahan is running this show. A showdown between player and coach was set from the moment Haynesworth collected his $21 million signing bonus, only to balk at playing nose tackle in Shanahan’s 3-4 defense and refusing to report to voluntary workouts.
 
The Redskins are coming off a lousy season, and all of their problems were not on the field. Players complained about roles, griped about a lack of leadership and, by season’s end, Redskin Park was not a happy place to come to work.
 
Shanahan is trying to change the culture while making it clear that nobody will have carte blanche, no matter how big your contract, your talent or your ego. Some coaches would have been happy Haynesworth showed up for camp and allowed him to practice to avoid another controversy. Not Shanahan. As long as Haynesworth is a Redskin, Shanahan wants everyone to know it will be his way — or no way.
 
"You could sense it from Day 1," wide receiver Santana Moss said of the new coaching staff. "You could tell they were different. They wanted things on demand. No matter what you did previously, they were going to make you do it their way. I feel like the most productive teams out there have those kinds of coaches."
 
2. Haynesworth is backed into a corner
Haynesworth did not address the media at Thursday’s practice, which might have been his best move. If he causes serious problems during training camp, it will not help his trade value, nor will it earn him respect from his teammates. Some Redskins were critical of Haynesworth when he skipped offseason workouts. If Haynesworth is going to be around, his teammates want him play well regardless of how they feel about him.
 
"I don’t think he has to win those guys back," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "We’re not out here trying to be best friends. We’re out here trying to win games."
 
3. Shanahan smartly leaves the door open
Haynesworth has lost weight since last season, and he has the talent to be a dominant lineman in any system. That is all the Redskins really want from Haynesworth — to be a dominant lineman on Sundays whether he is happy or not. 
 
That’s one reason Shanahan said Haynesworth will be on the field as soon as he completes the conditioning test.
 
"Hopefully he’ll get it done tomorrow, but it could take two or three days–it may take a week," Shanahan said. "Albert’s got a lot of ability. We get him in shape, great football shape, he can help us."
 
The tug-of-war between Shanahan and Haynesworth is likely to continue. But Thursday’s victory went to Shanahan.
 
This story appears in July 30’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only digital sports daily, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.
ASHBURN, Va. — Albert Haynesworth took the money. Now Mike Shanahan is forcing him to earn it. By making Haynesworth take a conditioning test Thursday and forbidding him to practice with the team after he failed the test, Shanahan continued to put his stamp on the Washington Redskins in his first season as coach.
 
Mike Shanahan's steely gaze focuses on improving the Redskins.
Mike Shanahan’s steely gaze focuses on improving the Redskins.

"He’s got to be at a certain level to practice with the rest of our football team," Shanahan said to a throng of reporters, chronicling another chapter of the battle between star player and star coach. "If he gets there, then he’ll be with us. If he doesn’t get there, then he won’t."

 
Here are three things to take from an eventful opening day of Redskins training camp:
 
1. Shanahan sends a strong message
Haynesworth showed up for camp and immediately got another memo that Shanahan is running this show. A showdown between player and coach was set from the moment Haynesworth collected his $21 million signing bonus, only to balk at playing nose tackle in Shanahan’s 3-4 defense and refusing to report to voluntary workouts.
 
The Redskins are coming off a lousy season, and all of their problems were not on the field. Players complained about roles, griped about a lack of leadership and, by season’s end, Redskin Park was not a happy place to come to work.
 
Shanahan is trying to change the culture while making it clear that nobody will have carte blanche, no matter how big your contract, your talent or your ego. Some coaches would have been happy Haynesworth showed up for camp and allowed him to practice to avoid another controversy. Not Shanahan. As long as Haynesworth is a Redskin, Shanahan wants everyone to know it will be his way — or no way.
 
"You could sense it from Day 1," wide receiver Santana Moss said of the new coaching staff. "You could tell they were different. They wanted things on demand. No matter what you did previously, they were going to make you do it their way. I feel like the most productive teams out there have those kinds of coaches."
 
2. Haynesworth is backed into a corner
Haynesworth did not address the media at Thursday’s practice, which might have been his best move. If he causes serious problems during training camp, it will not help his trade value, nor will it earn him respect from his teammates. Some Redskins were critical of Haynesworth when he skipped offseason workouts. If Haynesworth is going to be around, his teammates want him play well regardless of how they feel about him.
 
"I don’t think he has to win those guys back," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "We’re not out here trying to be best friends. We’re out here trying to win games."
 
3. Shanahan smartly leaves the door open
Haynesworth has lost weight since last season, and he has the talent to be a dominant lineman in any system. That is all the Redskins really want from Haynesworth — to be a dominant lineman on Sundays whether he is happy or not. 
 
That’s one reason Shanahan said Haynesworth will be on the field as soon as he completes the conditioning test.
 
"Hopefully he’ll get it done tomorrow, but it could take two or three days–it may take a week," Shanahan said. "Albert’s got a lot of ability. We get him in shape, great football shape, he can help us."
 
The tug-of-war between Shanahan and Haynesworth is likely to continue. But Thursday’s victory went to Shanahan.
 
This story appears in July 30’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only digital sports daily, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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