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A key cog in one of the league’s premier young defenses will miss a quarter of next season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The NFL has suspended Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington for four games. Few other details beyond that are available right now, but a suspension usually occurs only when a player has violated the policy multiple times. That means Washington is either incredibly unlucky due to botched tests, just as Richard Sherman was (unlikely), or he’s just quite dumb (much more likely).

It’s already a major blow in April — six months before a meaningful football snap takes place — for a team trying to right itself under new head coach Bruce Arians, and with the offense now led by new quarterback Carson Palmer. Washington was selected to his first Pro Bowl this past season after a year in which he accumulated 136 tackles and nine sacks while forcing two fumbles.

To his credit, Washington owned it. In a statement issued by the Cardinals he admitted to making a mistake, though we’re still waiting to hear what, exactly, his mistake was.

“I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it and face whatever consequences there are. 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.”

He can still participate in all offseason programs and training camp (including preseason games). But when the calendar officially flips to Week 1 of the 2013 season, Washington won’t be allowed inside the Cardinals’ facilities.