TEMPE, Ariz. — Expressing "extreme" disappointment in Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he won't talk again this season about the standout inside linebacker, who has been suspended a year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
"He made a choice and we're all living with it," Arians said in his first public comments since the suspension was announced last week.
The coach, who is a York High graduate, said he "obviously hopes Daryl gets his life straightened out."
"But he also was very unaccountable," Arians said, "to his teammates, the organization, the fans and everybody else."
The coach spoke after the team resumed volunteer organized team activity Monday.
Washington, who says the punishment was for marijuana, also was suspended the first four games of last season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. He faces further potential punishment from the league following his guilty plea to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
The loss of Washington leaves the Cardinals without the two dynamic inside linebackers who were the core of the team's strong defense a year ago. Karlos Dansby, the Cardinals' leading tackler last season, signed a free agent contract with Cleveland.
Second-year player Kevin Minter, who played one defensive snap as a rookie, already is penciled in as Dansby's replacement. Larry Foote, signed as a free agent, will be a candidate to take Washington's place, at least part of the time.
Lorenzo Alexander, who started at outside linebacker before going down with a foot injury three games into last season, will move inside, a position he has played before and says he loves. Kenny Demens, on the practice squad last season, is another possibility, and the team is looking to sign others.
"It's not imperative but we still would like to have some depth because we're short now going into camp," Arians said. "We'd like to have seven inside linebackers go to camp, so we'll see what's available and pursue it from there."
Asked if someone could be signed and become a starter, Arians said, "He'd have to earn it. If there's one available that could do that, I'd like to have him."
Alexander said the Cardinals still have the outstanding defensive front that was largely responsible for the success of the inside linebackers.
"All those guys were taking a block to allow D-Wash and Karlos do what they're going to do," he said. "So I don't see why that's going to change and allow us to run for the ball. ... Obviously they're good players but it was a collective team effort that enabled them to have those type of plays and impact in games."
Quarterback Carson Palmer said an improved offense should help offset the impact of losing Washington.
"We have to step up," Palmer said. "When you lose a guy like Daryl and you lose Karlos to free agency, Tyrann (Mathieu) is not going to be back probably as fast as we'd like, you kind of have to transform. That's the NFL. ... Offensively we have to pick up a ton of slack. We leaned on the defense a lot last year and we expect to be leaned on this year. We need to come through and we will come through."
Palmer said the players need to support Washington "and love him and try to be there for him through this phase."
He said Washington needs to keep preparing as a football player through his suspension and "stay away from bad people and bad places."
"Don't just sit back and relax and wait 'til next year," Palmer said, "because the game can pass you by."
He said the Cardinals players would welcome Washington back "with open arms."
"I think this locker room understands guys make mistakes," Palmer said. "Some mistakes are more detrimental than others and hurt you more than others ... I can't wait to see him. I know he's been through a lot and there's been a lot of crazy things but this locker room will give him a hug, welcome him back and be glad to see him back."
Washington's' experience has been an example to the team's younger players.
Minter has watched what has happened with eyes wide open.
"It's like man," he said. "I'd better not mess up."