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Sunday May 24th, 2015 8:58AM

Falcons: Followed NFL rules in Babineaux case

By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Coach Mike Smith says the Atlanta Falcons followed NFL rules in letting embattled defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux play in Sunday's loss to New Orleans.

Babineaux, who was arrested last week in nearby Gwinnett County and charged with felony possession of marijuana, started against the Saints and had three tackles and one quarterback hit.

According to the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players, Babineaux could become a candidate to enter the league's intervention program and face a four-game suspension because of his arrest.

Players can violate the CBA with "behavior, including but not limited to an arrest related to an alleged misuse of substances of abuse." Until Babineaux enters the intervention program, however, he is eligible to play.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, not the Falcons, will decide if Babineaux will enter the program.

"First and foremost, and I want to make this real clear that myself and the organization are extremely disappointed when any of our players show up in a negative light," Smith said Monday. "In terms of this being a league matter and it's a legal process that you have to go through, and with that I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment any more about that."

Babineaux, who has not been available to speak with reporters, said in a statement last week that hopes fans will "have faith that you will see I'm not guilty."

Babineaux and another man, Aaron Robinson, were driving in the fifth-year veteran's 2005 Cadillac Escalade when police pulled them over and found 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana last Thursday.
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