Cowboys lose popular player in Josh Brent

CINCINNATI -- It's certain Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent's season is over and his NFL career is in doubt following his arrest early Saturday after an accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown, according to Irving, Texas, police. Brent faces a charge of intoxication manslaughter.

Brent was a valued member of the Cowboys defensive line who, like Brown, was well-liked. Brent, however, was a popular player in the locker room and while he displayed a quiet demeanor in front of reporters, he liked to talk about Big 10 basketball and the NBA with reporters.

And he played together with Brown at Illinois.

Brent's teammates called him 'Beast Mode' because of his intensity on the field.

But Brent's past was questionable.

He previously pleaded guilty to a DUI charge stemming from an arrest while he played at Illinois. According to court records in Champaign County, Ill., Brent was arrested on March 5, 2009, and pled guilty to a DUI charge on June 2, 2009.

Brent was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 200 hours of community service and two years probation and ordered to attend a victim's impact panel.

When Brent first signed with the Cowboys he wasn't allowed to drive because of his arrest. There weren't any indications that he had a problem.

During the 2012 season, the three-year veteran started five games at nose tackle for an injured Jay Ratliff. Brent picked up his first career sack in a Week 4 game against Chicago.

Brent was credited with 1.5 sacks, five quarterback pressures, a pass breakup and a forced fumble, leading to a game-clinching fumble return for a touchdown by Morris Claiborne in last week's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"He’s really matured as a player," coach Jason Garrett said of Brent earlier this week. "He’s been a spot player for us in the past, a handful of snaps here and there in each of the ballgames, but because Ratliff has been out for a large part of the season, he’s played a lot more. He’s matured a lot. That can happen with players. You give them an opportunity to play more and some guys expose themselves and some guys rise up and become better players and prove to you that, ‘Hey, I can be a starter in this league.’ I think he’s shown that."

The future for Brent was bright because he was playing well and there is concern about the long-term health of Ratliff, who has missed seven games total this season because of injuries to his ankle and groin. The Cowboys liked Brent's position flexibility because he can play end and inside.

Brent's agent was approached about a contract extension as well.

"He’s a natural nose tackle," Garrett said. "He’s a two-gapping nose tackle, that’s the body type, but he’s also a pretty good athlete. He can make plays from side to side. I think he’s grown every week. I think he’s taken advantage of the opportunity we’ve given him."