In November, former Huskies linebacker Lawrence Wilson was arrested for speeding and possession of marijuana. At the time, he was a member of the Carolina Panthers' practice squad after the team selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. A week after his arrest, the Panthers released Wilson. At the time, general manager Marty Hurney said "Obviously, the incident last week didn't help his cause. It's clear that we do not want anybody's personal conduct reflecting poorly on the club."
And that very easily could've been the end to Wilson's NFL career only months after it began. Instead, he got another chance, earning a contract from the Saints after workout this spring. But his past isn't behind him just yet. According to the NFL, Wilson has been suspended for the first game of the season and fined a game check for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He'll be eligible to return to the active roster on Monday, September 10, a day after New Orleans' home opener against the Washington Redskins.
Wilson, who will be allowed to participate in training camp, and preseason practices and games, is still not guaranteed a roster spot. Which means that the team could choose to release him if a player of similar talents has a solid camp and isn't facing a one-game suspension. We'll repeat what we wrote last November when Wilson first got in trouble:
It's tougher to cut ties with a player who is integral to a team's success. In Carolina, Wilson was 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. If the Panthers were looking for an excuse to move on from Wilson, he served one up on a platter for them.
And now, it appears, that decision could haunt him at his next NFL stop. Here's to hoping Wilson has such a solid preseason that the Saints can't afford to cut him.