NFL suspends Bills star defensive tackle Dareus for 4 games

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills' patience with Marcell Dareus grew thin on Tuesday, when the team announced the NFL suspended the star defensive tackle for violating the league's substance abuse policy for the second time in two years.

This time the discipline is more severe for Buffalo's highest-paid player.

After sitting out the season opener last year, Dareus was suspended without pay for the first four games of this season.

''From ownership down, we have made it clear his behavior is unacceptable,'' the Bills said in a statement. ''We are very disappointed Marcell chose to put himself first, before his teammates, coaches, the rest of the organization and fans through his recent actions.''

Without going into detail, the Bills said they would continue taking ''the necessary steps'' to work with Dareus. The team did not reveal any details or name the substance Dareus used that led to the suspension.

Dareus posted a lengthy note on his Instagram account apologizing to the Bills, his fans, family and the league.

''I will not (hashtag)makeexcuses for the events in question,'' Dareus wrote. Calling the suspension ''a temporary setback,'' he asked fans to continue believing in him.

''I will continue to invest all that I have to bring honor and respect to the organization and my fans,'' Dareus added. ''I will rise above this setback, as with every challenge brings an opportunity for growth and supreme (hashtag)success!''

Dareus can continue practicing and playing through the preseason. His suspension begins the week before the Bills open the season at Baltimore on Sept. 11. He will be eligible to rejoin the team on Oct. 3, a day after Buffalo plays at New England.

Dareus is a five-year starter since being selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft. Last year, the Bills signed him to the most expensive contract in team history, a seven-year deal potentially worth $104 million.

The suspension is the latest blow to Rex Ryan's revamped defense, which is already depleted by injuries. And it is the latest in a series of off-field troubles for Dareus.

His one-game suspension last year stemmed from being arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia after being stopped by Alabama State Police on May 5, 2014.

Dareus avoided trial, during which he would have faced felony drug charges, by agreeing to enter an NFL substance abuse program a few months later.

That wasn't his only run-in with the law.

In April 2015, he reached a plea agreement to have misdemeanor charges dropped for crashing his Jaguar into a tree near a busy suburban intersection the previous spring.

On the field, the 26-year-old is considered one of the NFL's top defensive tackles. He's a two-time Pro Bowl selection and earned All-Pro honors in 2014, when he had a career-best 10 sacks.

The Bills were counting on Dareus to anchor a three-man line alongside veteran Kyle Williams and rookie third-round pick Adolphus Washington.

Buffalo's defense is already missing starting outside linebacker Shaq Lawson. The rookie first-round pick had shoulder surgery in May and is expected to miss at least the first month of the season. The defense is also down rookie second-round pick Reggie Ragland, who was pegged to start at middle linebacker. Ragland suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee 10 days ago.

Dareus becomes Buffalo's second player to earn a four-game suspension to open this season.

Last month, the NFL issued backup running back Karlos Williams a similar suspension for violating the substance abuse policy.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.