DeMarcus Lawrence vows to learn from mistakes after drug ban

OXNARD, Calif -- Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence publicly apologized to the Cowboys' organization Sunday for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which has earned him a four-game suspension.

In his first public comments since his suspension was announced in April, Lawrence said he apologized to his teammates during OTA practices before publicly apologizing to his coaches and the Jones family. He also vowed to learn from his mistake and promised to live up to the potential he showed at the end of last season, when he registered eight sacks in the last nine games.

"I got a chip on my shoulder. You have to play like that when you know you let the team down for the first four games."
DeMarcus Lawrence

"I ain't gonna lie," Lawrence said after Sunday morning's practice. "I did feel guilty, but God puts you through things for a reason. I just see it as a blessing to open my eyes with a little fortitude.

"I got a chip on my shoulder. You have to play like that when you know you let the team down for the first four games."

The suspension will cost Lawrence $230,151. The 34th pick in the 2014 draft is scheduled to earn $1.17 next season, the final year of his rookie contract. Lawrence had 55 tackles, including 10 for loss, and a forced fumble last season.

"We all make mistakes. He's made a mistake," coach Jason Garrett said. "The biggest thing you want everyone to do is accept responsibility for it and be accountable for it and then do what you need to do to rectify it.

"It was important for him to acknowledge that. He's a good person. He's a good teammate. He works hard and he wants to be the best he can, and he wants this team to be the best it can be."

Lawrence said he felt obligated to apologize to his teammates because he has emerged as a leader entering his third season.

"Times like this -- hard times -- come through your life all the time," Lawrence said. "You have to stand up and be a man about your mistakes. I did that. I stood up as a man, talked to my teammates and they understand how sorry I am.

"You have to admit to your decisions and mistakes. I felt like that was the right thing to do. My team counts on me as a leader and I didn't prove myself to them. I had to step up and let them know I was sorry."

Lawrence will practice during training camp, and he will continue working to make sure his back can withstand the rigors of an NFL season. He had offseason back surgery, which caused him to show up for training camp a few pounds over his desired weight.

"He's a stand-up guy who takes responsibility for his mistakes. obviously. It's an unfortunate one for us, but he's moving on from it," safety Byron Jones said. "It's not bothering him right now; maybe it is, but he's practicing hard and he's in meetings taking notes. He's not looking at it like he's not playing the first four games."