Head Coach Mike Smith didn’t say much about the Thursday-night arrest of starting defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, citing the team’s ongoing investigation and the sensitive nature of the “legal matter”
He did say he doesn’t expect his team to lose focus.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction,” the second-year head coach 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.”
Smith did not say whether or not Babineaux, a five-year veteran who leads the team with five sacks, will play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He did confirm rookie defensive tackle Vance Walker’s place behind Babineaux on the depth chart.
“Anytime you don’t have your front line players the next guy has to step up… That’s what happens all throughout this league every week,” Smith said.
Walker, who played at Georgia Tech, has played in six games this season totaling 12 tackles and two passes defensed.
“I don’t really know any details,” safety Erik Coleman said Friday. “I know, for myself, I’m going to go about it like a normal week, watch some film and get ready for the game… We just had a great practice. Guys are flying around, having fun. We’re just ready for the Saints and focusing on that.”
Of equal concern to the Falcons as they prepare to face the undefeated Saints is the health of starting quarterback Matt Ryan (toe) and running back Michael Turner (ankle). Both missed practice for a third-straight day on Friday but Ryan continues to get more work in the team’s light, walk-through workouts each morning.
“To this point, every day he’s gotten better,” Smith said of Ryan, adding he and Turner could be game-time decisions.
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