Carolina Panthers wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett's year to prove himself got off to a bad start Tuesday, when he was arrested for driving while impaired.
According to a statement released by the Mint Hill Police Department, Jarrett was stopped around 3 a.m. after an officer saw him cross the center line and run a red light at Lawyers Road and Highway 51, and continue east on Lawyers toward Union County. When Jarrett was stopped, the officer "smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Mr. Jarrett's person."
Jarrett then agreed to field sobriety tests, "however the tasks were performed poorly, according to the officer," the report said. He was taken to the Matthews Police Department for testing, before being transported to the Mecklenburg County Jail where he was released on $1,000 bond.
Mint Hill Police Lt. Sergio Carrera said they wouldn't release the results of his blood alcohol tests, adding, "He's got enough problems as it is."
Sources with knowledge of the situation said Jarrett blew a 0.12 on the test, 50 percent above North Carolina's legal limit of 0.08.
His first court appearance will be on April 11.
"Our players know these kinds of situations are unacceptable," Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Tuesday. "We have talked to Dwayne and expressed our feelings on this matter, and are gathering all the information we can."
It's a rough start to a year that was supposed to be his chance to shine. The Panthers avoided going out and signing a premier receiver in free agency in hopes Jarrett would own the job opposite Steve Smith. They did bring in Muhsin Muhammad, but the idea there was for someone to push, rather than replace, him.
Jarrett came back to Charlotte about a month ago to work out and get ready for the team's offseason conditioning program, which begins next week.
His agent, Darin Morgan, said in an e-mail they'd have no comment at this time.
Last summer, Jarrett was fortunate to walk away from a crash on Interstate 77. On June 20, 2007, he was heading back to his home in the South Charlotte suburbs when his new BMW was hit by another car, causing it to flip. According to the report filed by the N.C. Highway Patrol, Jarrett was doing about 65 mph in the middle lane of I-77 South when he was hit in the left rear, causing his car to flip and bound into another car before coming to rest on its roof nearly 200 feet away.
"Luckily, I had on my seat belt, or I probably wouldn't have been here right now," Jarrett said last year at training camp. "I was blessed ... It happened so fast you didn't have time to react. You're going down the highway, going about 60, 65. When a car hits you, you try to regain control back of the car. I hit that other car and it was a mess. After that, I don't remember anything."
His rookie season was nearly as big a wreck. He caught just six passes and only played in seven games. He was prolific at Southern Cal, catching 41 touchdowns in three seasons, but struggled with the adjustment to the pro game, with teammates worried he didn't take his job seriously enough.
The team hoped that his age (he won't turn 22 until after the season starts) contributed to his lack of development.
"He is, but he's got to grow up fast," elder wide receivers coach Richard Williamson said when asked about Jarrett's youth last summer. "You can't be young long in this business. I told him that, he understands that, and he's working at it."
• NOTE: The Panthers were looking for competition on their offensive line, but they reduced the field by one, releasing center Justin Hartwig.
The move clears the way for second-year man Ryan Kalil to take over in the middle, and likely for free agent pickup Keydrick Vincent to play right guard. Restricted free agent Geoff Hangartner can also play both spots, but would be more likely to contend for the guard job with Vincent.
Cutting Hartwig also clears the books of a free-agent pickup gone wrong for reasons scarcely beyond bad luck.
Viewed as an ascending player from a good line, the Panthers signed him to a five-year, $17 million deal in 2006.
Then he immediately realized he needed hernia surgery, and missed much of the offseason work. Then he suffered a groin injury in the opener when he stepped on quarterback Jake Delhomme's foot after a snap and didn't start another game that year. He had what was called "adductor tendon release" to repair his problem, which involved cutting one of the tendons that attach the thigh bone to the hip. Doctors had to cut other muscles in the area during the procedure, and it seemed at times that his strength never recovered.
Hartwig recovered to start 15 games last year, but finished the year on injured reserve with a knee injury.
After drafting Kalil last year, Hartwig's role for the future came into question. The Panthers spent the last month trying to trade him, but unable to find a taker, came to the decision to release him.