A relatively quiet Pitt offseason was turned upside-down over the weekend as starting Panther DE Jabaal Sheard was arrested following an altercation early Sunday morning in the South Side of Pittsburgh. Sheard had avoided any sort of major trouble during his time with Pitt and his arrest prompted an immediate suspension by the team.
Despite the fact that this happened in the offseason, recent details about the altercation may be too difficult to ignore when the discussion about a game suspension comes up. As if the fight wasn't bad enough, Sheard did nothing to help his case when details surfaced about him throwing a man through a glass door and then disregarding the police's attempts to stop the fight and continuing to throw punches.
Not to excuse what Sheard allegedly did, but he wouldn't be the first to exhibit poor judgment after midnight on the weekend in a busy area full of bars. Still, as a key starting member of a football team that has a chance to do great things, he simply shouldn't have put himself in that position.
Now the question comes about further suspension. That likely won't be determined until after the preliminary hearing scheduled for July 28th. But unless further details surface in Sheard's favor, it's reasonable to suggest that he'll be suspended during the season. Whether that means a half, a game, or more, it could cost Pitt - big time. The Panthers, traveling on the road to take on a likely Top 25 Utah Utes team in its season opener, don't have the luxury of playing a cupcake opponent in their first game. Sheard is one-half of one of the most devastating defensive end combos in the country and his replacement would have big shoes to fill.
Pitt's pass rush is one edge they can ill afford to give up. The secondary is already playing without its 2009 leader, departed senior, Aaron Berry. With less of a pass rush, a secondary that was already sure to be tested is going to be pushed even farther to the limit.
Sheard's suspension hurts all the way around.