Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will enter a pre-trial drug diversion program in Anniston, according to his attorney, Rod Giddens of Sylacauga.
Dareus was arrested in Cleburne County on May 6 for possession of imitation controlled substances, Giddens said. He was not under the influence at the time he was pulled over, and cooperated with law enforcement at the time, Giddens said.
If he completes the program, the felony drug charges could be reduced or dismissed. His progress in the program will be monitored by the National Football League, Giddens said.
Dareus was drafted by the Bills in 2011, in the third round. He played college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide, where he was named Defensive MVP of the 2010 BCS National Championship game.
Pretrial diversion programs are fairly common in Alabama for drug offenses, although they are not currently available in Talladega County, where Giddens’ practice is based.
Dareus is also facing criminal charges stemming from a wreck in New York.
Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams had a few cautionary words of advice for Dareus, in welcoming his teammate back to practice last week.
It’s time, Williams said, that Dareus realize he has put his young and promising career in jeopardy.
“I’m hoping that this is kind of a watershed moment for him, because he’s at a pivotal point,” Williams said after Dareus reported for the start of the Bills’ three-day mandatory minicamp. “Hopefully, it’s to a point where it’s kind of an epiphany, and he comes alive and turns the corner and does his best.”
Williams, a team captain, is taking a tough-love approach with Dareus, a player he’s spent the past three years mentoring.
“I think he’s heard (advice) from a lot of different levels, whether it be from his teammates or coaches, and I’m sure the front office,” Williams said. “So if you can’t get it from those three levels, maybe you’re not going to get it.”
Dareus returned to practice for the first time since he and coach Doug Marrone agreed that the player take two weeks off to sort out his legal problems.
It’s unclear what Dareus has been doing during his time away.
He’s been off since May 30. That’s when, shortly after participating in a voluntary practice, Dareus crashed his 2012 Jaguar into a tree near a busy suburban Buffalo intersection after allegedly racing teammate Jerry Hughes. Dareus was charged with reckless endangerment and ticketed for several traffic violations, including drag racing.
Dareus was scheduled to appear at Hamburg Town court on Tuesday, but that was pushed back to July 1 in part so that he didn’t miss practice.
Dareus’ troubles started near the end of last season, when he was benched during each of the Bills’ final two games because he was late for team meetings.
General manager Doug Whaley intends to meet with Dareus following the Bills’ final practice today, when the team takes a month before opening training camp July 20.
“I’ll just have a little sit-down with him when we leave, so everybody’s on the same page,” Whaley told The Associated Press. “The thing right now is he’s back focused straight on football. It’s great that he’s back. And I think he thrives in a situation like this where it’s all football.”
On the field, Dareus returned to his familiar starting spot alongside Williams.
In one team drill during the non-contact practice, Dareus showed off his power and speed by bullying past guard Kraig Urbik to break up a potential pass. On the next play, Dareus spun off Urbik’s block and filled the hole to stop a run.
Marrone has stuck by Dareus, while expressing disappointment in saying the player has made “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 two weeks ago. “I’m going to do everything I can to help a 24-year-old man make better decisions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.