Sunday can't come soon enough for Cards' linebacker Daryl Washington

Arizona Sports News online

As Tom Petty once twanged, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

Welcome to Daryl Washington’s world…at least for the past four weeks.

We gained one of our best players back. That’s huge.

Sunday afternoon the wait will finally be over when the Arizona Cardinals welcome back their Pro Bowl linebacker after he served his four-game suspension handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

“You learn a lot about yourself,” the humbled Washington said. “I don’t wish this on anybody. Have to sit out four games and cost the team some games, maybe. But I’ve moved forward.”

His return is a welcomed addition to a Cards’ defense which has experienced both highs and lows through the quarter point of the schedule. Sunday the Red Birds face a Carolina Panthers (1-2) offense who’s improved drastically with quarterback Cam Newton becoming more of a threat to keep the ball on zone read plays in this new era of NFL offenses.

Washington’s versatility defending the pass, run and rushing the quarterback (nine sacks last season) takes pressure off the entire Arizona defense.

“I’m happy to have him back,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said Wednesday. “We gained one of our best players back. That’s huge. I’m happy for that. He’ll have a good game. He’s excited.”

It’s easy to see why D-Wash is excited. Not only was he banned from practices the last month. He couldn’t be with the team on game days, either. It’s a safe bet he’ll be looking to take out some of the pent up frustration at University of Phoenix Stadium this weekend.

“Yeah, I’m a little worried,” a smiling Bruce Arians explained. “He might be a little overanxious.”

These can be anxious times for the Cardinals (2-2) who will look to go above .500 for the first time this season. Arizona is about to enter one of their toughest stretches of the schedule with upcoming games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Falcons and Texans.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.