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Daryl Washington at NFL crossroads, Bruce Arians says

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians sent a message to suspended linebacker Daryl Washington last month with a demotion to the second-team defense behind newly signed Karlos Dansby.

Already scheduled to miss the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, Washington might have extra games tacked on after a domestic dispute in early May in which he allegedly broke his ex-girlfriend's collarbone. He's due back in court on July 3 to face that charge.

Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio's Alex Marvez and Bill Polian Tuesday that Washington is "walking a very thin line in the league right now" as a player red-flagged by the organization.

Although Arians acknowledged Washington as a "very bright young man who understands the mistakes he's made," he emphasized on NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Wednesday that the 2012 breakout star is at his NFL crossroads.

"He's in a situation in his career where he's either going to go off and become the Pro Bowl player, Pro Bowl person," Arians said, "or he's going to go down that path that a lot of guys go down and ruin his career."

Washington is talented enough to remain one of the franchise's nucleus players, but the front office was wise to add Dansby, Jasper Brinkley, Lorenzo Alexander and rookie Kevin Minter at inside linebacker. The Cardinals have the depth to handle a lengthier suspension, not to mention a weighty decision on Washington's $10 million option bonus next year.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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