The Buffalo Bills will be without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for their season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
The NFL announced Thursday afternoon that Dareus has received a one-game suspension without pay for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He will be eligible to practice at training camp and participate in preseason games.
Dareus released the following statement through the Bills on Tuesday:
“Last year, I made a mistake involving possession of a banned substance. The NFL’s discipline for this conduct is part of the drug policy, and I apologize to my family, my teammates, the entire Bills organization and Bills fans that I will miss one game as a result of my mistake. I will work intensely that week and will be extremely happy to contribute to a win in week two for the Bills.”
Dareus was arrested last May in his native Alabama after being pulled over for speeding. He was found to be in possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia, both felonies in Alabama.
Less than a month after that arrest, Dareus crashed his car into a tree outside the Mongolian Buffet while allegedly drag racing teammate Jerry Hughes on Route 179 near McKinley Parkway. That led to misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, reckless endangerment and participating in an illegal speed contest in addition to traffic violations.
Dareus pleaded guilty in April in Hamburg Town Court to non-criminal charges of imprudent speed and a failure to keep right, paying a $300 fine and agreeing to host a free football camp in order to resolve that case.
The case in Alabama was resolved when Dareus entered into the NFL’s substance-abuse program, an agreement that expunged those charges upon successful completion.
Dareus, 25, was selected to the Pro Bowl last season after finishing 2014 with 49 tackles and a career single-season high 10 sacks. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract.
A suspension was not a surprise, and the fact it’s only for one game can be viewed as a win for the Bills. He’ll miss the game against the Colts, but will be back for the showdown against the New England Patriots in Week Two.