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News gets worse for Falcons: QB Ryan still hurting; DL Babineaux arrested

Photo by Dave Martin

Photo by Dave Martin

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Matt Ryan missed his sixth practice in a row Friday with the Atlanta Falcons, but coach Mike Smith listed the second-year quarterback as questionable on the team's injury report.

The 2008 NFL offensive rookie of the year, sidelined since the first quarter of Atlanta's 20-17 win against Tampa Bay two weeks ago, is nursing an injured toe.

"Matt worked again (Friday) in our walk-through," Smith said. "He continued to progress and we're going to make a decision as we get closer to game time."

Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner, who missed last week's 34-7 home loss to Philadelphia with an injured ankle, was limited in practice and is listed as questionable.

The Falcons (6-6) host New Orleans (12-0) on Sunday.

Four other offensive starters -- Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White (knee) left tackle Sam Baker (elbow), center Todd McClure (knee) and right guard Harvey Dahl (ankle) -- are also questionable.

Rookie cornerback Christopher Owens (shoulder) was listed as probable. The Falcons expect Owens will start on the left side opposite right cornerback Brent Grimes, who is filling in for starter Chris Houston. Smith has ruled out Houston (hamstring) and tight end Justin Peelle (concussion).

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, who was arrested Thursday night in Gwinnett County and charged with felony possession of marijuana, is listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury.

Babineaux was limited in practice, and Smith said he has yet to decide if the fifth-year veteran will be allowed to play against the Saints.

BABINEAUX ARRESTED: 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 11/2 ounces of marijuana. He was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 85 at 10:45 p.m. Thursday.

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.

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.