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Thomas: It’s just a scratch

Linebacker says he’s fine with Belichick’s benching

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / October 22, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas didn’t have all the answers, but he knew just where to send the media for a better source.

Was he given a reason for being inactive on Sunday? “Ask Bill, he has all the answers,’’ Thomas replied.

Was it done to motivate him? “Motivate me? Ask Bill. He’s the only person that can answer that.’’

Is there something to prove to the coaching staff this week? “Ask Bill.’’

What Thomas does know is that he is ready to move forward.

“That’s over with,’’ he said. “Last Sunday is done. Let’s move on to Tampa. It’s bigger than me. I mean, these guys had a great game, and so we are trying to overshadow it by what happened to one person.

“No one person is bigger than the game. No one person is bigger than the team, so I don’t want to make it seem like it’s about me, because it’s not about me.

“Bill made his decision - it is what it is whether you like it or not, that’s what it is. I live with it. I’m a professional. I come here, do my job, and I go home.’’

Thomas addressed the media for the first time since watching the Patriots’ 59-0 beating of the Titans at Gillette Stadium from home. The decision to make him inactive for the game surprised Thomas, he said, but as of yesterday afternoon, he had not talked to Patriots coach Bill Belichick about it. Linebackers coach Matt Patricia broke the news to him, Thomas said.

“I’m here, just like Bill is here every day,’’ Thomas said. “If someone has a problem with you, they come talk to you. Ain’t nobody said nothing to me.’’

For the first time since Thomas’s rookie season with Baltimore in 2000, he was a healthy scratch. He is in the third year of a five-year, $35 million deal, the largest free agent signing in Patriots history. Since joining the team in 2007, he has started every game except one. Last season, a broken forearm cut his season to nine games, but at the time of his injury, he was leading the team in sacks with five.

This season, he has 12 tackles and one sack in five games, and Thomas did not shy away from critiquing his performance.

“I think I can play better,’’ Thomas said. “I can only think for myself, so that’s what that is.’’

Following Sunday’s game, Belichick said Thomas was inactive because “we just went with the players we thought would have a bigger role in the game.’’

If the move was a motivational tool, Thomas said it wasn’t necessary.

“I don’t need something like this to fire me up,’’ he said. “You just go out there and you do your job. It’s not kindergarten. I don’t play mind games.’’

After one too many questions about the subject, Thomas said, “It’s not about me and Bill. We’re fine. It seems like y’all have a bigger problem with it than I do. I come to work, I do what I’m asked to do, and whatever decision that Bill makes, I respect that from a player standpoint to a coach. Whether I agree with it or not is something totally different, but it’s not about me. It’s about the Patriots vs. Tampa Bay right now.’’

On Tuesday, Belichick was asked how the week will proceed with Thomas.

“Everything’s the same for every player,’’ Belichick said. “They’ve all got the same job: come in, learn the game plan, be ready to go. Substitutions and playing time are all coaches’ decisions; they’re not players’ decisions. A player’s job is to be ready to play, and if he’s put into the game, then go out there and play his best. All 53 guys, it’s the same for all of them.’’

From Thomas’s perspective, his process this week is to “come to work every day, be a professional, do my job and do what I’m asked to do.’’

Thomas was present for both practices so far this week and said he is working toward playing Sunday when the Patriots travel to London to face the Buccaneers.

So if he is active for the game?

“Yeah, I’ll be ready,’’ said Thomas. “I’m ready every Sunday.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker.com.

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