It's been a tough year for former Huskies trying to make it as NFL rookies. Two weeks ago, the Chargers cut Jordan Todman, their 2011 sixth-round pick, and Wednesday, Lawrence Wilson, a practice squad player with the Carolina Panthers, was arrested for speeding and possession of marijuana.
The Panthers, 2-4, had given the players extra time off because of the bye week. Before letting the team go for four days, head coach Ron Rivera delivered this message:
“Behave. Seriously. Take care of yourself. Take care of your teammates. If you're with your teammates, it's the buddy system. And get your rest. That's the bottom line. I told them we need to be smart about this.”
Sheriff's deputies pulled Wilson over around 4:20 p.m. Wednesday on I-85 North for going 76 mph in a 65-mph zone. They searched Wilson's 2006 Infiniti after smelling marijuana and seeing it on his shirt, a spokesman told the Charlotte Observer.
More via the Observer:
Wilson, a sixth-round pick who has spent all season on the practice squad, initially would not comply with deputies' instructions while they tried to handcuff him. But he cooperated when additional deputies arrived, and later cried and asked deputies what this would do to his career, Ramsey said.
Wilson did not have a driver's license with him, but gave deputies a work ID. He told authorities he played for the Panthers and was en route to Virginia during the break.
Whether the incident has any lasting effect on Wilson's NFL plans remains to be seen. There are plenty of examples of professional athletes ending up in the back of a squad car who go on to have productive, lucrative careers.
The difference between them and Wilson? They were starters, usually considered to be the best at their respective positions. It's tougher to cut ties with a player who is integral to a team's success. Wilson is on the practice squad of a team with one of the league's worst defenses. If he can't crack that lineup, his NFL fate may have been decided before he was arrested on the side of a North Carolina highway.