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Daryl Washington suspended for four games by NFL

One of the most promising and underrated defensive players in the NFL will not be available for the first four games of the 2013 season.

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The Cardinals announced Wednesday that inside linebacker Daryl Washington has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2013 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Washington can participate in all offseason and preseason activities.

Washington is coming off a breakout season. Few linebackers possess his versatility. It's an early blow to new coach Bruce Arians.

"Adversity and dealing with it is part of the business but when it's avoidable like this was, it's particularly tough," Arians said in a statement. "One of the biggest things we preach is accountability; Daryl knows that and our team knows that. We will deal with this and others will have to step up until he's back. I'm confident they will."

It's unclear how Washington violated the policy; that information is confidential.

"I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it and face whatever consequences there are," Wallace said in a statement. "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."

The Cardinals expect to retain a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Todd Bowles. Free-agent pickup Jasper Brinkley figures to take one of the starting spots with Washington out, but the Cardinals are very thin at linebacker after that.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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