ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is taking the next two weeks off from voluntary practices as he faces criminal charges for the second time in a month.
Coach Doug Marrone said after practice Tuesday that he and Dareus had a lengthy discussion and agreed the player should take a break from football.
Dareus crashed his 2012 Jaguar into a tree while allegedly racing another car not far from Ralph Wilson Stadium on Friday. According to Hamburg Town police, Dareus was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment. He was also ticketed for several traffic violations, including drag-racing.
The accident occurred about a month after Dareus was arrested in his native Alabama and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Marrone was disappointed in Dareus for making what he called “some poor decisions.”
“I just want to make sure that I’m clear that everyone understands that I believe in Marcell, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we can get him on the right track,” Marrone said. “I’m going to do everything I can to help a 24-year-old man make better decisions.”
Without going into detail, Marrone said Dareus was dealing with “personal issues.” Marrone also wouldn’t reveal what Dareus would be doing during the next two weeks or where that would occur. He does expect Dareus to return for the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp that opens June 17.
The accident occurred about three hours after Marrone closed a three-day voluntary minicamp by warning his players to avoid trouble during their long weekend off.
After receiving a complaint of two cars racing down a major street, police arrived to discover Dareus’ Jaguar badly damaged by a crash into a tree near a busy intersection. Dareus was arrested and then released and is scheduled to appear in court June 17.
A person familiar with the investigation confirmed to The Associated Press that Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes is alleged to have been driving the second car, described by witnesses as a black Camaro. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the accident is still under investigation.
The Buffalo News first reported on its website Tuesday that police are investigating whether Hughes was driving the other vehicle.
Dareus was the Bills’ 2011 first-round draft pick. His troubles date to the end of last season, when was benched for portions of each of Buffalo’s two final games because he violated a team rule.
The legal issues could lead to disciplinary action from the NFL, including a fine or suspension.
As recently as last week, Dareus said he was ready to put his troubles behind him when he arrived for the start of minicamp.
“I feel like I’m on the straight and narrow,” he said then. “Things happen: young, dumb. You’ve got to correct it and just work through it.”
Dareus has been a three-year starter in Buffalo since being drafted with the third pick out of Alabama. He’s coming off a career season in which he was credited with 71 tackles and 7½ sacks and made his first Pro Bowl appearance as an injury replacement.
It was a bounce-back year for Dareus, who acknowledged he lacked focus on football the previous season after his younger brother was one of three people shot and killed during a burglary in Alabama.
Marrone emphasized that Dareus’ two-week break was not a punishment.
“It was both of us sitting down and talking about how do we move forward, how do we get this thing right, and working together in coming up with that decision,” Marrone said. “Anyone that makes a poor decision hurts. I have to do whatever I can to make sure that our players, our coaches, everyone, makes a better decision.”
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