The Arizona Cardinals took a huge blow to their defense on Wednesday when the NFL announced that star linebacker Daryl Washington would be suspended for the first four games of the 2013 NFL season for violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
Washington broke out in a big way in 2012, compiling nine sacks from the inside linebacker position.
"I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it and face whatever consequences there are,” Washington said in a statement released by the team. "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."
Washington also compiled 140 tackles in 2012. It will be tough to repeat that number -- along with the sacks total -- in just a maximum of 12 games in 2013. But, as new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, "It is part of the business."
"Adversity and dealing with it is part of the business. But when it's avoidable like this was, it's particularly tough," Arians said in a statement. "One of the biggest things we preach is accountability. Daryl knows that, and our team knows that. We will deal with this, and others will have to step up until he's back. I'm confident they will."
The good news for the Cardinals is that Washington can participate in all offseason, training camp and preseason work (and games) and won't be booted from the team's facilities until Week 1 of the regular season rolls around.
But it'll still be a huge blow for Arizona to deal with during the first quarter of the season, especially with Washington expected to improve on an already stellar start to his career.