Cornhuskers punish Suh for crash

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh has been disciplined by the team after being ticketed for negligent driving for ramming three parked cars with his sport utility vehicle over the weekend.

Suh, a fifth-year senior and one of the team leaders, told police he swerved to avoid hitting a dog or cat crossing the street when his 2003 Land Rover hit the first of three cars on a Lincoln street. Police said Suh had alcohol in his system, but he tested well below the legal limit.

Coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday that he would not make public the nature of Suh's punishment. Pelini, who has a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol-related offenses, said Suh was not drunk and that the crash was an accident.

Suh, a leading contender for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman, hit the cars as he was driving home at 2:20 a.m. Sunday. Police suspected the 22-year-old Suh had been drinking, and a Breathalyzer test showed Suh's blood-alcohol content was 0.035, well below the legal limit of .08, according to the accident report.

After a rash of off-field incidents in March 2008, Pelini said he would not tolerate alcohol-related violations. The coach said Suh didn't cross the line and was simply on his way home after falling asleep at a friend's residence.

"The zero tolerance is for drunkenness, that type of thing," Pelini said. "He was far from drunk. I know exactly where he was and what he did that night. This doesn't fall into that category. I deal with those situations on a case-by-case situation. If someone's drunk and gets into trouble, they're going to have an issue. That wasn't the case."

However, Suh put himself in a bad position by being out past 2 a.m., Pelini said. "What I told him was that I understand why he was up that late ... but any time you're up at that hour, you leave yourself [open] for things to happen."

Suh met with reporters but on Pelini's orders declined to answer questions about the accident.

The Huskers defeated Baylor 20-10 in Waco, Texas, Saturday afternoon, and their charter flight arrived in Lincoln shortly before 7 p.m.

Suh was driving a 2003 Land Rover owned by his mother. The SUV bounced off the first vehicle, then hit two more cars on the other side of the street.

There were no injuries. Suh's Land Rover had an estimated $10,000 in damage. Two of the vehicles he hit had damages estimated at $8,000 apiece, and the third was totaled.

Pelini said Suh called him immediately to tell him what happened.

"I thought he handled it the right way, very responsibly," Pelini said. "He's fully prepared to take care of the damages and all that. That's the end of that."

Suh, who is from Portland, Ore., returned to Nebraska after considering declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft last spring.

Suh is projected to be among the first players drafted in 2010. He shares the team lead with 49 tackles, including five sacks, in eight games. He also has a team-high seven pass breakups and 14 quarterback hurries.