FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth did not practice Saturday, one day after the New England Patriots officially acquired him, prompting speculation that he didn't pass the team's conditioning test.
Haynesworth has a history there. On the surface, it doesn't look good.
His absence gained momentum on social media sites and local sports radio, fueled in part by coach Bill Belichick's non-answer to the question. Asked if Haynesworth had passed his conditioning test, Belichick said, "There are things we still need to do with Albert for him to be able to get on the practice field, and when those things are done, he'll be out there."
Asked whether he thought football was important to Haynesworth, Belichick said, "Of course, otherwise I don't think he would be playing football. But those are questions you can ask him. I don't want to speak for him."
However, there are a few common-sense reasons why putting Haynesworth on the practice field would have been an irresponsible risk to take.
A major part of a coach's responsibility in this post-lockout environment is managing the health of players, and it would be borderline reckless of Belichick to put Haynesworth in that position. He'd be risking the health of an asset he obviously feels is going to be a big part of the team.
That appears to be the same way Belichick has approached his conditioning test. One player described this year's test as a bit different from the norm, somewhat modified and scaled back, which is likely a result of Belichick not wanting to push too hard too early.
Haynesworth appeared briefly on the team's All-Access television show Friday and talked about treating himself like a rookie, adding that "being on a team with a winning attitude and totally it's all about football and nothing else, I like that."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.