GLENDALE, Ariz. — Daryl Washington is not accustomed to playing with the
reserves. He is, after all, one of the best young defensive players in the
But, facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse
policy, the Arizona Cardinals’ standout inside linebacker finds himself working
out with the second- and third-string players in training camp.
He also is facing assault and criminal trespass charges stemming from an
incident with his former girlfriend. Washington appeared in court on Tuesday and
the case was continued to Oct. 9. He has pleaded not guilty.
Through it all, Washington has proceeded at camp pretty much as if it’s
business as usual, practicing at full tilt, signing a multitude of autographs
and speaking with reporters, although he avoids the details of his problems.
“When I come back, I just have to prove myself all over again,” he said.
Everything seemed so much brighter a year ago, when after just two seasons in
the NFL, the former second-round draft pick out of TCU signed a six-year
contract worth up to $31 million. The deal was reached just three days before
the season began, and Washington proceeded to have the best year of his career.
Utilizing his speed and athleticism in Arizona’s 3-4 defense, he led the team
with 140 tackles, nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss. One of the few bright
spots in a dismal 5-11 season, Washington earned his first Pro Bowl nod.
Then in early April, the NFL announced that Washington had been suspended for
the first four games of the coming season for violating the league’s substance
abuse policy. At the time, he issued a contrite statement through the team.
“I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it
and face whatever consequences there are,” the statement read. “I take full
responsibility and I understand that I let down my teammates, the organization
and fans. I apologize for that and promise that no one will work harder to make
up for it.”
A month later, Washington was in the news again for the wrong reason.
He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal trespass.
Prosecutors accused him of grabbing his ex-girlfriend, the mother of the
couple’s baby girl, by the throat and shoving her to the ground during an
argument at her apartment.
She also told police that he pushed her with two hands, causing her to fall and
break her right collarbone.
Washington was freed after posting $2,400 bond.
As the case grinds through the court, it’s unknown whether it will lead to
further NFL disciplinary action.
For now, new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows Washington won’t be eligible
until week five, a home game Oct. 9 against the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s getting a bunch of reps,” Arians said. “He’ll play in a bunch of
preseason games, probably more than he ever has, so that his preseason is his
September, so that he has plenty of snaps in our defense and is ready to go.”
To ease the impact of Washington’s absence, Arizona brought in veteran
linebacker Karlos Dansby.
Washington said he doesn’t mind working with the backups.
“I think we’re all taking the same amount of reps,” he said. “My attitude is
positive. I’ll just be ready to go when I come back. Hopefully it will be sooner
rather than later.”
Arians said he believes Washington has learned from what has happened to him
“I think he knows his mistakes and he’s fine,” the coach said, “and I’m fine
with where he’s at right now.”
Washington must know what a precarious situation he’s in. More off the field
trouble can only lead to more uncertainty for what seemed like such a bright NFL
future. He’s due a $10 million option bonus from the Cardinals next March.
“I’m a pretty strong person so I always try to take a negative situation and
turn it into a positive,” he said, “and I think in the end it’s going to make
me a stronger person overall.”
Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org
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