THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Role player? Thomas wasn't a prominent actor

Email|Print| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / November 5, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS - Where was Adalius Thomas?

When the Patriots signed Thomas to a five-year, $35.04 million free agent contract this offseason, it would have been hard to imagine that he'd be on the sideline for long stretches of a game with such high stakes.

Yet such was the case yesterday in the Patriots' 24-20 victory over the Colts, as Thomas played sparingly. For the player who produced "humble pie" T-shirts for his teammates this year, it was a large slice for him to eat yesterday.

"It was new and it was tough," said Thomas, who did not appear to be upset by his lack of action. "But you know it's always that way. All I do is go out there when I'm asked to go out there and you make plays when you're out there. That's kind of how it went today."

Asked if he was OK with his lack of playing time, Thomas said: "I'm not commenting on that. It is what it is. We won. It's bigger than that. We're moving forward to the next thing."

Thomas, who finished with two tackles, didn't take a defensive snap until the Colts' third series. Unofficially, he was on the field for just two other series - the last Indianapolis possession of the first half, and the final Colts possession of the game.

Why the lack of playing time?

A fixture at strongside inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 scheme, Thomas seemed to get caught in a switch of schemes yesterday.

The Patriots did not utilize the 3-4, instead calling on a package with five defensive backs.

The change meant that several players had their roles altered. Thomas was one of them, as when he took the field he played defensive end as part of the four-man line, not linebacker.

"We used a lot of different people in the defensive front, we used a four-man line and used some linebackers as part of that," coach Bill Belichick explained. "We thought that was our best chance to win."

Thomas, who also contributed as a member of the punt and field goal block team, was asked about being part of the Patriots-Colts rivalry for the first time.

"It was very intense, one of the most intense because the crowd was so loud and it was a hostile environment," he said. "To come in here and win against a very good football team, we really had our work cut out for us. It was a big challenge, a playoff atmosphere."

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