NFL suspends Cardinals' Washington for 1 year

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NFL suspends Cardinals' Washington for 1 year
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Kendall Wright #13 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on December 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 37-34. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Kendall Wright #13 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on December 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 37-34. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06: Sam Bradford #8 of the St Louis Rams is tackled by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - DECEMBER 22: Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks is stopped short of a touchdown by Daryl Washington #58 and Marcus Bernard #59 of the Arizona Cardinals on December 22, 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals intercepts a pass from Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 04: Linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 19-13 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals jumps over Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals for a 19-yard touchdown during first half action at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06: Wide receiver Greg Salas #87 of the St. Louis Rams is injured after being tackled by linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 19-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 5: Linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals tackles running back Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints during first quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium on August 5, 2012 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson #7 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass as linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals leaps in during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass as Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals defends during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 21-17. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Mike Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is nearly sacked by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 09: Leon Washington #33 of the Seattle Seahawks hurdles Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 9, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29: Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals sacks Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Mike Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is sacked by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 27: Inside linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the football against the Atlanta Falcons during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 27-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #4 of the Tennessee Titans is pressured in the pocket by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on December 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 11: Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum on August 11, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) -- The NFL has suspended Arizona Cardinals standout inside linebacker Daryl Washington for one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The punishment, announced Friday, was for substance abuse and did not mention his recent guilty plea to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

Washington, in a statement released by his agent, said the penalty was for marijuana, and that he takes responsibility for the violation. He said he "is committed to making changes" in his life that will allow him to return to the NFL.

Considered among the best in the NFL at his position, Washington was suspended the first four games of last season for violating the substance abuse policy.

"It is completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement released by the team. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them."

Washington, the team leader in tackles in 2011 and 2012, will lose $2.9 million in salary due to the suspension.

In March, Arizona exercised a $10 million option to keep him on the roster. Washington received $5 million then and the deals calls for him to get the other $5 million next March.

Washington said the NFL "policy is very strict, and I have chosen to take responsibility."

"I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape," he said, "and will work equally hard to ensure that my life off the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed."

With the loss of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to free agency, the Cardinals find themselves without the dynamic combination that was a big part of their strong defense last season.

Second-year player Kevin Minter is slotted to take Dansby's place. Just what the team will do to try to replace Washington is unclear.

"Our approach is the same as it's always been: next man up," Keim said. "We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one.

"One player's absence is another's opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now."

After leading the team with 111 tackles in his second NFL season, Washington signed a six-year contract, adding four years and $32 million to his existing deal.

In 2012, he led the team with career highs of 140 tackles and nine sacks and made the Pro Bowl. But in April of last year, the NFL suspended him four games for violating the substance abuse policy. A month later, he was arrested on accusations of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, the mother of the couple's child.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault earlier this year.

A suspension for the criminal conviction had been expected. The penalty for substance abuse came as a surprise to some, but apparently not to Washington's teammates.

"Old news to us, new news to y'all," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said in a tweet.

Keim said "our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track," Keim said, "and we will certainly support him however we can."

When OTAs resumed this week, coach Bruce Arians said he hoped the team could pick up another outside linebacker.

The Cardinals signed veteran Larry Foote in the offseason, and outside linebacker Lorenzo Washington also can play inside.

Minter, a second-round draft pick, played almost entirely on special teams as a rookie.

Another player Arizona has at inside linebacker is Kenny Demens, an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago who spent last season on the Cardinals' practice squad.

"I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals," Washington said. "I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension to return as a better man and football player."

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