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Ty Warren could be more important than Albert Haynesworth

07.28.11 at 2:01 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Ty Warren feels rested and ready to go. And his addition to the Patriots defensive line this season after missing all of 2010 with a hip injury that required surgery may be the most significant in camp, even moreso than a certain former Pro Bowl pass rusher who is headed north from the nation’s capital.

For the first time in his career, Warren didn’t reach double figures in games played. As a matter of fact up until 2010, Warren had played in at least 13 games since his rookie season in 2003, when he was taken in the first round, 13th overall, out of Texas A&M.

Since becoming a regular starting left defensive end on Bill Belichick‘s always-changing defensive front, Warren had become one of the Patriots’ most reliable and versatile linemen on the defensive line, right there with Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour through 2008.

Warren rewarded the Patriots with steady – if not spectacular – play, earning the trust of Belichick and the defensive staff. That trust landed him on the field in all down situations and allowed the Patriots to trade Seymour prior to the 2009 season. In short, Warren is a known commodity, with 20.5 sacks in seven seasons prior to 2010, including a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2006.

Warren saw his season come to a premature end with a hip injury during training camp, an injury that eventually required surgery.

“It’s about as fresh as I’ve been in a long while,” Warren said. “It’s just good to be fresh. The guys that played last year that weren’t here over the offseason, I’m sure those guys are fresh as well.”

Warren’s absence in 2010 was a huge loss for the Patriots pass rush, as teams felt more comfortable double-teaming Vince Wilfork. But he said Thursday that injury is in the past and it’s not been on his mind of late.

“No, not really. That was really the first big injury I ever had, period,” Warren said. “It just presented a different challenge for me as far as getting back onto the field. I never doubted myself. I feel confident enough to know if I’m out there doing what I need to do, everything will fall in line.”

The loss of Mike Wright to a concussion in midseason only made matters worse for the Patriots and their ability to get any consistent pressure on the quarterback.

Fast-forward to this week and news breaks that Tully Banta-Cain is out 4-6 weeks with an abdominal injury.

Now you understand why Belichick goes out and calls Redskins coach Mike Shanahan about Albert Haynesworth. And you also understand why the return of a heathy Ty Warren is so important.

Ah, yes, Haynesworth. Warren – like other Patriots is welcoming the monster talent to Foxboro for what he could bring to the table.

“That’s a huge acquisition,” Warren said of the 6-foot-6, 320-pound tackle. “Whenever that deal happens, that’s a huge acquisition. I didn’t get to see him on film last year because I wasn’t in the film room watching opposing offenses, but I remember seeing him a couple years ago. That man, that’s a freakish talent. That’s a big acquisition.

“Sometimes, things like that can be misconstrued. Every case is different. Obviously, from the outside looking in, you can see that Albert wasn’t really happy in his situation. Really, at the same time, all you see is what goes on on the outside, and sometimes, that’s only half of the truth to be honest with you. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem with the structure of this locker room, the guys that are in this locker room if he’s acquired.”

So, while everyone waits for training camp to begin in earnest – beyond casual walkthroughs – all Warren can do know is get back to working on what made him one of the most important cogs in the Patriots defensive machine.

“It was a rough day today, a lot of hitting,” Warren joked with a smile. “It’s just good to be back out here, missing a whole year, being away from the guys. I talked to them a lot over the course of the season, and I also talked to them during the offseason when we weren’t able to be here together. It’s good to be back out here.”

Warren might also feel like providing more of a leadership role to the rookies and second-year players now that he’s back on the field and playing. And that could come in handy since he didn’t have that chance during the lockout to help players in the Patriots’ film room.

“Personally, I think the lockout put young guys in a difficult situation, even second-year guys just because the offseason is typically a time when guys kind of establish themselves in the weight room, strength-wise, film room-wise, and that wasn’t able to happen for those first-year guys last year,” Warren said. “So I think it definitely put those guys in a unique situation. There’s a system in place here and everything. The support staff is here from the players’ standpoint and the coaches’ standpoint, so guys will do well.”

So, Warren is ready to begin anew in 2011 with the Patriots, with some big names on either side of him.

“Time will tell. Everything looks good on paper right now, but we’ve still got to come out here on the film and put that work in, put that repetition in. With that coming together and stringing some things along, I think anything is possible,” Warren said.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan
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