Dolphins DE Phillip Merling Arrested
Merling, 25, was arrested in Weston and spent the night in Broward County Jail. He appeared in magistrate court Thursday afternoon and was charged with aggravated battery. Authorities said Merling struck the woman in the face and head, and caused her lip to bleed.
The Dolphins' second-round pick in 2008, Merling also was ordered to stay away from the woman who reportedly is two months pregnant with the couple's second child.
As of Thursday night, the Dolphins had yet to comment on Merling's troubles, but they'll need to. Merling is the team's fourth player to be arrested since February, joining cornerback Will Allen and Ronnie Brown, both busted on DUI charges, and defensive lineman Tony McDaniel, who also faces domestic battery charges.
At the NFL owners meetings in March at Orlando, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was asked about the team's run of off-field troubles this offseason.
"Are we happy? No. We're not happy," Sparano said at the time. "We're disappointed some of them put themselves in this position. But we're going to let the process take care of itself. These players have been good people in this league for a long time. I've been tough on them. At the same time you want to listen. I do listen and I talk. In all cases they clearly understand where we are."
Sparano will have a chance to update his comments Friday, when the Dolphins open a three-day mandatory veteran mini-camp.
Merling is set to enter his third pro season after being selected in the second round of the 2008 draft from Clemson. His career numbers show 59 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks, including 2 1/2 in '09, which ranked fifth on the team. He's started just two games over two seasons, but figures to battle for a starting spot at right end against 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick.