STAFFORD, Texas (AP) _ Minnesota Viking lineman Broderick Thomas was arrested early today for drunken driving and the unauthorized use of a handgun near his Houston-area home.

Police in Stafford, just southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County, pulled the 28-year-old Thomas over about 12:30 a.m., Sandy Holloman, a Stafford police communications clerk, said.

Police determined Thomas was under the influence of alcohol and found an unidentified handgun in the car, which is against the law without a concealed weapons permit. He was taken to to the Fort Bend County Jail.

Holloman could not immediately verify whether Thomas was asked to take a alcohol breath test at the scene.

Thomas was to appear before justice of the peace Gary Fredrickson where bond was expected to be set.

The native Houstonian has a home in Missouri City, which is just east of Stafford.

This is not Thomas' first brush with the law.

Last July 21, Thomas was arrested at Houston Intercontinental Airport while trying to bring an unloaded 40-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol through the metal detector while attempting to board a plane.

Thomas was charged with carrying a weapon in a secured area of an airport, but a grand jury refused to indict him on the third-degree felony which could have cost him up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Thomas was drafted from Nebraska by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent five seasons (1989-93). Thomas played for the Detroit Lions during the 1994 season.

While in Tampa, he was shot twice outside a nightclub in an altercation with an Air Force staff sergeant. Doctors removed only one bullet. The other remains lodged in his right shoulder.

Last March 9, Thomas signed a three-year, $5.8 million contract with the Vikings. He played well during the second half of the year at Minnesota, finishing with 86 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks, both second on the team. However, Vikings wide receiver Chris Carter said on his radio show two days after the season ended that Thomas ``didn't fit in'' with the Vikings.