The title of this post, Why to watch Marcell Dareus, is a bit ironic. It is ironic in that I prompt the reader to watch for Marcell Dareus in training camp, but, for the next few days, fans and coaches will not be able to watch him at all.
That is because Dareus reported to camp out of shape and failed a pre-training camp conditioning test, as reported by the Associated Press.
Dareus, a Pro-Bowler in 2013, has been a stalwart at defensive tackle for Buffalo after a stellar career at Alabama, but he has not had a blemish-free NFL career in terms of offseason mishaps.
In a two-month stretch in May and June, Dareus was arrested for incidents involving drug possession and reckless driving. Dareus was released within an hour of his drug arrest and was arraigned for his reckless driving charge that involved drag racing, but those two incidents, grouped with his poor conditioning heading into training camp that began on July 20, have Dareus in poor standing with the Bills organization.
“You always are disappointed when one of your guys isn’t ready,” said general manager Doug Whaley in the AP article. “But we think he’s not far off. So hopefully sooner than later.”
Though Dareus reported to camp out of shape and will reside on the active/non-injury list until he passes his conditioning test, Whaley expressed his confidence in Dareus’ abilities once he is actually on the practice field and out of trouble.
“His mindset’s better once he’s here,” Whaley said, “And I think we’ll find out with his actions. And I think he’s ready to disprove all this stuff that he’s a bad seed.”
Bills head coach Doug Marrone felt similarly.
“I just think right now he just needs to focus on getting himself ready, getting on the field, and focusing on football,” Marrone said in the AP report. “And I think that’s what he’ll be ready to do.”
I could not agree more with Whaley and Marrone. Dareus, 24, has been a stud on the field, since his Alabama days and could continue to be if he shapes up, mentally and physically. As the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, Dareus is way too skilled to let his career be derailed so early and I am interested to see how he performs in training camp once he works his way back on to the field.
NFL fans will often see a few players here and there fail conditioning tests around the league. While embarrassing, it is not the end of the world, I think Dareus will be on the fast track for a second-straight Pro Bowl appearance.
If Dareus can use this as a learning experience, he could join Mario Williams in creating one of the most dominating front lines in the league and improve a defense that allowed 128.9 yards per game in 2013, 28th worst in the NFL.