Having served his four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington returned to the field Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium against the Carolina Panthers.
It didn’t take long for No. 58 to make his mark.
Washington finished with a team-high nine tackles, had two sacks and intercepted a pass early in the fourth quarter that thwarted a Carolina drive in the red zone.
Not a bad 2013 debut at all.
“The guy hasn’t had full pads on since late August and he comes out and just has that kind of presence, it’s just amazing to me the kind of player Daryl Washington is,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim told Doug and Wolf Monday morning on Arizona Sports 620.
For as proud as Keim is of Washington’s on-field dominance Sunday, the first-year general manager is equally impressed with the linebacker’s transformation away from the gridiron.
“We had a long talk after some of the issues he had and I made it clear what my expectations were. I know Michael Bidwill had an opportunity to talk to him as well, and coach Arians,” Keim said. “Daryl has done everything right since we talked to him.
“He had an opportunity to come in here and work out every day and attend our meetings although he couldn’t practice the past four weeks, and he has worked his tail off. I know it means something to Daryl, and that’s half the battle.”
When pressed to pick which of Washington’s game-changing plays impressed him the most, Keim declined to play favorites.
“They’re both equally impressive to me,” he said. “My man can run, now. He looks like he’s got a rocket up his rear half the time. It looks like he was shot out of a cannon.
“That’s the element we were missing on defense is speed at that position, the ability to cover, the ability to bring pressure and I think we saw that (Sunday).”