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Michael Lombardi on D&C: Albert Haynesworth needs to be ready for November, December

09.30.11 at 9:30 am ET

NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Patriots and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots struggled defensively Sunday against the Bills, leading to their first loss of the season.

“I think they’re a work in progress on defense,” Lombardi said. “After the Miami game I thought they were really coming along and making some steps in terms of their ability to put pressure [on the quarterback]. And certainly there were plays [vs.] San Diego that they did. Last week it was disappointing. But you have to understand, last week the ball came out so quickly, that they’ve only given up one sack in Buffalo. If Buffalo ran a normal offense where they were straight drop-back, five- and seven-step drops, their offensive line would get exposed. But because of the system they run, it’s very difficult to hit the quarterback.”

Albert Haynesworth was supposed to provide a lift to the defense, but the oft-injured lineman missed the Bills game. Lombardi said Haynesworth’s true value won’t be known until the final month of the season.

“I think the jury’s still out on that,” he said. “If you watch Albert in the first game, if you watch him against Miami and if you watch him against San Diego, he was providing some of those things [in the pass rush]. Last week obviously he was hurt with his back injury.

“Look, this game’s about November, December. And I think the key component for Albert Haynesworth isn’t whether he plays tremendously in the month of September, it’s can he be a force in November and December when they have to win those games and win playoff games. And I think that’s really the goal for Albert Haynesworth. I’m not saying he should take time off now, but I think because of no offseason program, because of no real training camp, I think it’s most important to get him in shape, get him healthy, and then get him ready for November and December.”

The Patriots play in Oakland Sunday against the resurgent Raiders, who have taken advantage of their all-around speed. The line play could be a key factor. Said Lombardi: “The offensive line is another line, like Buffalo, that can become exposed with the pass rush, especially because they’re not that talented, but they get rid of the ball very quickly.”

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