The legal issues are bound to hover over the opening of training camp on July 25. Coach Bill Belichick rarely comments on such matters and instructs his players to do the same.
Belichick has sometimes signed players who had troubles elsewhere if he felt they could help the team win, hoping his disciplined approach and leaders such as Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork and now-retired Patriots including Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel could keep them in line.
Results have been mixed. Running back Corey Dillon and wide receiver Randy Moss, disgruntled on their previous teams, avoided off-field problems with the Patriots and were productive for several seasons. Chad Johnson, then known as Chad Ochocinco, caught just 15 passes in his only season with the Patriots in 2011 but caused no off-field distractions.
Dennard became a starter at cornerback in the seventh game of his rookie season. The other starter, Aqib Talib, was obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Nov. 1 then signed a one-year contract on March 16. He missed his first game with the Patriots while completing a four-game suspension imposed by the NFL for violating its policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Talib had been suspended without pay for the 2010 opener and fined one additional game check for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. That followed an altercation with a St. Petersburg cab driver during training camp in 2009. He also had charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas dropped a week before he was due to be tried for allegedly firing a gun at his sister’s boyfriend.
On Thursday, Dennard was pulled over while driving just before 2 a.m. and failed a field sobriety test, police said. A phone listing for Dennard couldn’t be found.
Police spokeswoman Katie Flood said he was taken to a detoxification center but not jailed. He also was accused of refusing a chemical test and a driving infraction.