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Patriots doubting Thomas?

Veteran’s absence raises questions

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By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / October 20, 2009

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The mystery behind Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas and his being on the inactive list for Sunday’s game didn’t get any clearer yesterday.

Thomas was a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie season with the Ravens in 2000, missing the 59-0 beating of the Titans at Gillette Stadium. He wasn’t on the injury report all week leading to the game and was not at the stadium Sunday, according to a league source.

Thomas is in the third year of a five-year, $35 million deal and the inactive listing for a player who started the first five games of the season caught many by surprise. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the decision revolved around who would have the “bigger role in the game.’’

The Patriots used outside linebackers Derrick Burgess, Tully Banta-Cain, Pierre Woods, and Rob Ninkovich Sunday, and Belichick was asked why any of them were used instead of Thomas against the Titans.

“It’s a combination of all the things on defense, and on special teams and third down,’’ Belichick said. “When you look at what the roles for those players were on all four downs . . . they each contributed in at least one and two areas pretty strongly. Every player has value. If we could have brought more than 45 players to the game, I’m sure we would have and I’m sure they all would have played. It’s just that we had to select the ones that we felt would have the bigger role in the game, so that’s what we did.’’

The Patriots were off yesterday and leave Thursday for London to face Tampa Bay. Thomas has not been available for com ment since Sunday, but NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who played with Thomas while with the Ravens in 2004-05, said on the “GameDay Final’’ show that he spoke to Thomas and, “He’s upset. He’s going to work it out with his coach, but he’ll be back.’’

Thomas has 12 tackles and one sack this season. Belichick would not say there has been a dropoff in Thomas’s performance this season.

“I’ve said many times, I think he’s a good football player,’’ Belichick said. “He’s versatile. He’s made some big plays for us and he’s done a lot of different jobs and we have a lot of confidence in him. If that wasn’t the case, then he wouldn’t be here. I’m glad we have him. I think he can help us, I think he will help us, and he has helped us and I feel that way about our other players as well.’’

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees was asked to sum up Thomas’s contributions this season.

“There’s been some good things and some not so good things,’’ Pees said. “I could say that about every player on defense and I could say that about myself as well.

“I just think that the guy’s a good athlete and a good player. But just like everybody else, there’s some things we need to do better and some things we’ve done well.’’

Putting Thomas on the inactive list generated some talk that he may be on the trading block. The NFL trade deadline is at 4 today.

The Patriots released Banta-Cain yesterday according to multiple league sources.

As for the future of Thomas, Belichick said, “I don’t know. It was one game. We’ll evaluate it this coming week against Tampa like we always do. This week’s different from last week.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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