It’s odd to look out at the Cardinals practicing defensively and seeing arguably their best defensive player running with the second unit. But that’s exactly what linebacker Daryl Washington has been doing the entire offseason and now into training camp.
Such is the fallout for a player whom the team knows will miss the first four games of the regular season after the NFL suspended him for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. And Washington gets it.
“I’m not frustrated at all because I understand why it’s happening,” Washington said. “It’s not unexpected. I talked to (linebackers) coach Mike (Caldwell) and (defensive coordinator) Todd (Bowles). You understand. And when I get back, I need to prove myself all over again.”
Washington’s proof isn’t just about football, although despite his Pro Bowl season of a year ago he still is under a coaching staff that hasn’t worked with him in a game situation. Washington is also striving to regain a trust from an organization that not only was disappointed with his suspension but is also watching closely the potential resolutions of an offseason arrest for assault. Washington’s next scheduled court date is Aug. 6. The Cardinals brought back veteran Karlos Dansby in large part because of Washington’s off-field woes, and it is Dansby who has been with the first unit (as an inside linebacker alongside Jasper Brinkley). Washington, after dominating large chunks of last year, is relegated to being a backup.
When Washington comes back from his suspension — he can take part in all of camp and preseason, but can’t be at the facility for four weeks once the regular season starts — it’ll be for a home game against Carolina and QB Cam Newton. And the Cardinals, 25 percent through the schedule, will have already set the tone for their season.
“Right now I’m staying positive,” said Washington (kneeling below, talking to Reggie Walker.) “I know I’m going to miss the first four games the regular season, but I want to get as much work as I can and being in my playbook and getting work on the field so when I come back I’m not too rusty.”
Tags: Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby
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