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Patriots notebook

Thomas throws flag at Jets

Veteran cornerback Deltha O'Neal has been happy to seek out assistance from his new Patriots teammates. Veteran cornerback Deltha O'Neal has been happy to seek out assistance from his new Patriots teammates. (David Kamerman/Globe Staff)
By Mike Reiss and Michael Vega
Globe Staff / September 19, 2008
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FOXBOROUGH - Linebacker Adalius Thomas turned in one of the highlight-reel plays of Week 2 of the NFL season with his "double sack" of Jets quarterback Brett Favre and running back Leon Washington.

The sack that helped seal the Patriots' 19-10 win has been replayed over and over, but yesterday Thomas was talking about the play after the sack, expressing his thoughts over what he felt was an illegal block by Washington.

On the play, Thomas rushed off the left side. Replays showed Washington dive at his legs, while right tackle Damien Woody dropped into his pass set to block. Thomas felt that it was a chop block.

"I think it was an illegal play, as far as one player setting you up and another comes to block you," he said. "I didn't sit there and [harp] on it any farther, but I knew that once he went for my legs, after I got up, I wasn't about to let him go out for a route. That's why I stayed on top of him.

"I think from the play before, whether it was embarrassment or something, that might have been a frustration play. Was it intentional? I don't know. I just know that it's not legal. I think the league is cracking down on that."

The NFL, which reminded teams about the importance of player safety in a memo yesterday, reviewed the play and determined that Washington will not be fined.

Thomas was unaware of the league ruling when he spoke with the Globe yesterday. He said such blocks can jeopardize a defender's health, but that he must block those thoughts out when he takes the field.

"You can't go out there and play that way, wondering if someone is going to do that to you. You have to go out and play at full speed," he said. "Injuries are going to happen without illegal hits. Sometimes hits are legal and people get hurt."

Winning attitudes

Matt Cassel refused to be dragged into a war of rhetoric with Miami linebacker Joey Porter, who made disparaging comments about the Patriots quarterback Wednesday, saying, "He's not Tom Brady. So if he's not Tom Brady, it shouldn't be that hard."

Porter seemed to guarantee a win for the 0-2 Dolphins in Sunday's game against the 2-0 Patriots at Gillette Stadium, saying, "It'll be good to go out there and get our first victory."

"I haven't read Joey's comments or anything like that, or whatever he said," Cassel said. "I don't know what he said and don't really care to know."

Apprised that Porter had said the Dolphins planned to "treat him like you treat a backup . . . you throw the kitchen sink at him," Cassel merely shrugged and smiled.

"Everybody is allowed to have their own opinion," Cassel said. "I respect him as a player. I think he's a great player. That's just the NFL - everybody is going to have an opinion and you have to go out and play."

Porter did not retract any of his remarks when asked about them yesterday by reporters in Miami.

Asked about Cassel, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, "He actually reminds me of No. 12 [Brady] when he was preparing and Drew [Bledsoe] was here. He's just got a wonderful attitude about him, but the nice thing is he has a little edge about him, too, as nice as he is.

"I happened to watch a practice and a defensive player - this is before the changing of the guard - gave him a real shove," Kraft said. "He got quite upset and protected himself. He showed some moxie, and that's good for all the fans to know. We have a real solid guy there, and a good guy."

Hall deserving of fame

The Patriots unveiled their interactive hall of fame, The Hall at Patriot Place, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the state-of-the-art, two-story, 36,000-square-foot structure.

"The creation of the Hall has been a labor of love for our family and the organization," said Kraft. "I truly believe it's one of the finest, most interesting, and most innovative spaces in the country."

The Hall features 19 high-definition touch-screen kiosks. In addition, 4 1/2 hours of exclusive video content is displayed on 11 60-inch high-definition monitors, seven projection screens, and a 48-foot-wide panoramic movie screen in the Raytheon Theater, where a 15-minute film documenting the team's history plays every 20 minutes.

Among the more interesting interactive exhibits is "The Snow Globe," a 16-foot-diameter geodesic dome that surrounds visitors and greets them with a drop in temperature as a video is played of Adam Vinatieri's 45-yard tying field goal vs. the Raiders in the 2002 playoffs. Among the quirkier artifacts on display is the John Deere snowplow used in the "Snowplow Game" against Miami in 1982 and a larger-than-life copy of the $15 million check Kraft signed as a deposit on the purchase of the franchise.

"That was what I had to send the night before we announced it," Kraft said with a chuckle. "I never wrote a check like that before. You can see my handwriting was a little bit [shaky]."

Admission to The Hall, which is closed during all Patriots home games, is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and active military, $5 for children 5-12, and free for children 4 and younger.

The Hall will hold an induction ceremony for tight end Ben Coates at 3 p.m. tomorrow. The ceremony will be free and open to the public.

Option play

Troy Brown was at yesterday's ceremony and seemed to leave the door open for a return. When asked by reporters if he was ready to officially close the book on his career, Brown wasn't ready to say. "We'll see," he said. "There's always a chance [of playing]." . . . Mike Vrabel said his use of a headset in his helmet would likely be an ongoing experiment for him and defensive coordinator Dean Pees. "It helped in the Jets game, for the most part," Vrabel said. "Dean's getting used to it and I'm getting used to it." On one play, Vrabel said he failed to switch helmets. "When I went out there I could hear Dean talking and I thought, 'I think I forgot to change it,' and I did." A penalty is supposed to be called when two players on the same team have the communication device on the field at the same time . . . Linebacker Pierre Woods was not surprised to see Jake Long, his former University of Michigan teammate, emerge as the top lineman and No. 1 pick overall of the Miami Dolphins. "Everybody who saw Jake Long knew he'd be a great player," Woods said. "You look at a lot of Michigan offensive linemen, guys like Jon Runyan, Jon Jansen, Steve Everitt, guys who have played a long time, and he's one of those types." . . . Linebacker Eric Alexander (calf), running back LaMont Jordan (foot), running back Laurence Maroney (shoulder), and wide receiver Kelley Washington (ankle) did not practice for the second day in a row. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork (back) was limited in his participation in yesterday's practice.

Christopher L. Gasper of the Globe staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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