FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Albert Haynesworth came to the New England Patriots at the beginning of training camp with a reputation for being, among many things, surly and uncooperative.

The truth is during his short time here, Haynesworth has been one of the most engaging players in the locker room, always finding time to answer questions from the media.

Like Wednesday.

While most Patriots were invisible in the media time in the locker room, Haynesworth took the time to hold court, even if it was brief. “I’ve got a meeting,” he said, looking at the clock. “I’ve only got maybe two, three minutes.”

He talked for three minutes, 11 seconds, or until a member of the Patriots’ media staff told him he had to scoot.

Haynesworth, of course, was one of Bill Belichick’s most talked-about preseason acquisitions, gained for a fifth-round pick. Considered at one time to be the best defensive lineman in the NFL while he was with Tennessee, he spent the last two seasons with the Washington Redskins, where he earned his bad-boy reputation with poor play and feuding with the coaches.

Many people considered this his last chance in the NFL.

If that’s true, it’s time for the 6-foot-6, 350-pound Haynesworth to start earning his considerable salary.

Thus far he has just two tackles and one quarterback hit in three games and, in last week’s 30-21 victory over the New York Jets, was used mostly in third-down, or passing, situations.

He would obviously like to be on the field more often.

“The more I play, the more familiar I can get,” he said.

“Coach is not going to rush anything. He wants me to get my feet under me so that I can play well.”

The Patriots have always been known as playing complicated systems. It takes time for newcomers to adjust. Defensive line coach Pepper Johnson said as much recently when he was asked about the new guys — and not just Haynesworth. Veterans Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis and Mark Anderson are all new to the defensive line.

Of them, only Carter is in the top 10 in tackles for the Patriots, with 19.

“We’re getting a lot of good plays and a lot of productive plays from some guys that are playing some techniques and are doing some things that they’re not normally used to doing or accustomed to doing,” said Johnson in a recent interview. “It’s kind of hard teaching some old dogs new tricks, but we have some guys that are buying into the system and working at it, working hard to try to do some of the things that we ask them to do.”

Haynesworth has also been hindered by nagging injuries, which kept him out of much of the preseason and games at Buffalo and Oakland.

“I feel OK,” he said. “I’m still trying to shake some things. As time goes on I’m feeling better and better and more comfortable in the whole scheme of things of what I’m doing.”

Haynesworth did make a point to let everyone know that he expects more from himself.

“I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied,” he said. “If I’m not making every tackle, every sack, every play, I’m not satisfied.”

What he can do is dominate. In 2008, his last season with the Titans, he had 75 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

He expects to do the same here. He expects to be perfect.

“You can ask my mom,” he said. “I’ve had games when I was with the Titans when I had three sacks, couple of tackles for a loss and things like that and she was like, ‘Oh, how’d you play? You played great.’

“I was like, ‘Yeah but ‘ I want to be the best at what I do at all times. If I make a tackle for a 1-yard gain, I think it should have been a 1-yard loss. If I make a sack, I think I should have had a sack, a strip and pick up the fumble.”

That may yet come. To a man, the Patriots feel their defense is coming. Statistically, it is still ranked last overall in the NFL. But after last week’s performance, when the Patriots forced seven three-and-outs from the Jets, they’re feeling much better going into Sunday’s game against the dangerous Dallas Cowboys.

“We’re starting to gel as a good defense, and as a defensive line we’re starting to get a feel for what everybody can do,” said Haynesworth. “We’re heading in the right direction.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH