Trust is like a bank account.
It can take years to accumulate a nest egg, and that can be wiped out in one moment of weakness.
Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus experienced that this offseason, when he was suspended four games for violating the NFL's drug policy. Just like that, he withdrew any trust that has been accumulated.
He's in the slow process of trying to regain what he's lost.
"As a human being, I feel like everybody constantly works on themselves," Dareus told The Buffalo News on Thursday. "I’m moving forward, I’m not even thinking about the past."
That's understandable, given the way his 2016 season has gone. In addition to his suspension, Dareus has dealt with hamstring and groin injuries that have cost him another four games.
With just two games left in the regular season, Dareus said he's "trying to still find that" rhythm that only comes with being in the lineup on a weekly basis, even if his head coach and defensive coordinator make it sound like he's already found it.
"You have to go out and play and get the intensity of it, the speed of it, and obviously he’s gotten better every week and when he’s in the middle, we feel very comfortable," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said.
"When he’s out there, he’s a huge factor," Ryan added. "There isn’t anybody in this locker room that isn’t happy to have him beside them on game day."
Dareus has 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks in six games this season, flashing glimpses of the first-team All-Pro level he played at in 2014.
"You see how good we can be when we play together," fellow defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "He’s a super-talented guy. ... I’ve been around him so long that when he’s in there playing – when he’s in shape and he’s ready to go – he’s tough to beat."
Unless, of course, he's beating himself. Dareus' biggest problems have been of the self-inflicted variety.
Ryan was asked Thursday if Dareus had regained his trust.
"I think he's definitely gaining my trust," the coach said.
Dareus also had 52 teammates to answer to after his suspension.
"The trust is built up through playing with somebody and being in there and knowing that you can count on them, holding them accountable to the standard you set, for them individually and for us as a defense in general," Williams said. "You know what he can do playing wise. It's hey, 'we need to steer away from some of these decisions or these pitfalls you’ve got caught with.' Since he’s been back, we haven’t had any trouble, and you don’t want him to have any more trouble. It’s more a trust issue in that area than it really is" on the field.
Of course, that trust can't be earned by anything Dareus says.
"It’s through the course of time," Williams said. "Through action. It’s not saying anything."
To that end, Dareus will host a Christmas party Friday night for 175 children at the William-Emslie YMCA on William Street. He's also donating $10,000 to the YMCA Buffalo Niagara.
"It makes you feel good when you’re doing good deeds from the kindness of your heart," Dareus said. "It’s just a small act of kindness. It makes me feel good to see a smile on their face. … I remember being in their shoes, going to events like this."
On Saturday, Dareus will face the Dolphins for the first time this season. He missed the Week Seven game because of a hamstring injury and could only watch as Jay Ajayi carved up the Bills' defense for 214 rushing yards.
"Oh, did we not have him last time," Ryan said this week with tongue planted firmly in cheek. "I guess we'll find out" how much having Dareus will help.
" I’m just excited to get out there and get a chance to play against him myself," Dareus said this week. "He’s a pretty good player. He runs pretty hard."
That Week Seven loss was the first of three straight for the Bills, a tailspin that could very well cause them to miss the playoffs for a 17th straight season. The Dolphins, meanwhile have won eight of their past nine games and control their own destiny for a postseason spot.
"Obviously we will be better with him in there," Williams said of Dareus. "I don't want to take anything away from them from the first game, because they did some really good things, but I'm sure he's looking at it the same way I did watching the Pittsburgh game – you feel like you can help."