FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith says Jonathan Babineaux's arrest Thursday night for felony possession of marijuana will not affect his struggling team.
Babineaux, a fifth-year defensive tackle and arguably the Falcons' best pass rusher this season, has been charged with 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana. He was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 85 at 10:45 p.m. Thursday.
"I don't think it's going to be a distraction," Smith said. "This is a strong group of men in this locker room. We all have a job to do and we're going to go out and do it."
Babineaux practiced Friday, but refused interview requests after the 1-hour workout. Smith declined to say whether Babineaux, whose five sacks lead the team, would play Sunday when the Falcons (6-6) host New Orleans (12-0).
According to Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli, the arresting officer was still on duty Friday morning and would not file a report until later.
Schiralli said Babineaux and another man, Aaron Robinson, were driving in Babineaux's 2005 Cadillac Escalade when police pulled them over.
"It was pretty routine," Schiralli said. "The officer saw that the vehicle had an expired tag, no tag light and too heavy a tint on the windows. The officer smelled marijuana and found three bags containing a total of approximately 40 grams. That's quite a bit and enough for us to charge him with intent to distribute."
Babineaux re-signed with the Falcons last fall when the team gave him a five-year, $25 million contract. He was drafted in the second round out of Iowa in 2005.
Schiralli said Babineaux, who posted a bond of $5,700 and was released from Gwinnett County jail at approximately 5 a.m., also was charged with driving without a license.
Atlanta has lost three of four and five of seven as its defense has dropped to last in the NFL with 49 plays allowed of 20 or more yards.
In a statement released by team spokesman Reggie Roberts, owner Arthur Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff "are aware of the situation concerning Jonathan Babineaux and are in the process of gathering information. Because this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time."
Babineaux was cleared in November 2007 of a felony charge of animal cruelty after the Gwinnett prosecutor's office determined evidence was lacking for his alleged involvement in the death of a dog.
Gwinnett County Police arrested Babineaux on Feb. 19, 2007 after his girlfriend, Blair Anderson, said she and Babineaux argued at their home. She said she went to the movies, and when she returned, she found her 1 1/2-year-old pit bull, Kilo, in "severe physical distress."