Miami Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling is in Broward County jail after being arrested on an aggravated battery charge in a domestic dispute with his pregnant girlfriend.
Reports of the incident, which allegedly happened on Wednesday night, were broken by the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly via twitter. The Broward Sheriff's Office website confirms the charge against Merling.
Although many have said the the Dolphins' second-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft has been a disappointment, Merling has been a significant contributor as a rotational defensive end in the Dolphins' 3-4 scheme.
In two pro seasons with the team, Merling has started four of 32 games played while recording 59, tackles, 3.5 sacks, one interception, and one defensive touchdown.
With Randy Starks moving to nose tackle to replace Jason Ferguson, Merling was considered by some to be the favorite to replace him at right defensive end opposite Kendall Langford.
However, Merling is expected to face stiff competition from Dolphins' 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick, and Merling's new-found trouble with the law won't help his chances.
I actually expected Odrick to win the job at some point this season anyway, but a potential suspension of Merling for violating the personal conduct policy would practically seal it.
Depending on how far the charge against Merling goes in the legal system, the incident could even spell the end of Merling's tenure in Miami.
With two young, talented ends able to hold down the starting jobs in Langford and Odrick, as well as a nose tackle that played like a Pro Bowler at end last season in Starks, Merling will have to hope those players vying for reserve end jobs don't impress the coaching staff too much.
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