Falcons’ Jonathan Babineaux suspended 1 game by league for 2009 marijuana arrest

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Falcons’ Babineaux suspended 1 game by league

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The NFL suspended Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux for one game Tuesday after his arrest last year on marijuana charges.

Babineaux will miss the Falcons’ Sept. 12 opener at Pittsburgh. He also has been fined one week’s pay, $260,000 of his $2.2 million salary.

Babineaux pleaded guilty to felony marijuana possession July 19. The charge was reduced in a Gwinnett County court to three misdemeanor counts. He received one year of probation.

Police found 1½ ounces of marijuana in Babineaux’s car when he was arrested in December. He and a friend were driving through suburban Atlanta at the time.

The suspension will leave the Falcons without their most productive defensive tackle. Babineaux led the Falcons with six sacks last season. He forced two fumbles.

The Falcons could be left with two young starters at defensive tackle.

The Falcons hope 2009 first-round pick Peria Jerry earns a starting job. Jerry missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury.

Coach Mike Smith said Tuesday that Jerry is moving closer to gaining full medical clearance. He has been limited through the first week of training camp.

Rookie Corey Peters, a third-round pick from Kentucky, could take advantage of Babineaux’s suspension to start against the Steelers.

Thomas Johnson, who started 10 games last season, Trey Lewis and Vance Walker are the other top defensive tackles in camp.

“I don’t think that it really does anything for us in terms of how we change our preparation,” Smith said of the suspension.

“We’re going to go in prepared no differently than we would in any other year for our season opener.”

Babineaux is eligible to participate in training camp and preseason games. Following the suspension, he can return to the team’s active roster Sept. 13.

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