With the trading deadline looming tomorrow at 4 p.m., the healthy scratch of linebacker Adalius Thomas in Sunday's 59-0 romp over the Tennessee Titans gave rise to the speculation that the Patriots might be interested in moving him for another player.
When asked about Thomas's status during a conference call today -- yesterday was the first time he had sat out a game while healthy since 2000, his rookie year at Baltimore -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick replied:
“I don’t know. It was one game. We’ll evaluate this combing week against Tampa like we always do. This week is different than last week. I think he’s a good football player. He’s versatile. He’s made some big plays for us. We have a lot of confidence in him. If that wasn’t the case, he wouldn’t be here.”
With the Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom and the Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu both being lost for the season Sunday, there would appear to be a need among those teams for a veteran linebacker.
While he didn't specifically say what teams were expressing interest in what players, Nick Caserio, the Patriots' director of player personnel, acknowledged having discussions with a few teams last week, but indicated nothing was intense or imminent.
"I'd say at this point we've had different discussions at different points,'' Caserio said. "I spoke with a few teams last week. Some teams had called us. I would say for this time of the year the conversations have been more normal.
"As we had mentioned last week, our talks are a little more intense during the training camp period when we get down to the roster cutdowns,'' Caserio said. "But I would say at this time of the year, and really for the last week or so, they've been really normal for this time of the year.''
Asked if it was likely or unlikely that a deal would be struck by the trading deadline, Caserio replied, "I think it depends,'' he said. "You have to find if there's a player on another club and you have to see if you can agree to some terms. There's a variety of moving parts. So I think it depends on the situation and we'll have to sort of take it as it comes and if it's something we feel makes sense and we'll have to consider whether it's the trading deadline or guys off the street. There's a variety of different avenues you can use to improve or look to upgrade your team at different points during the year.''
Thomas had not shown up on the injury report at all last week leading up to the game against Titans. After the game, Belichick was asked if Thomas was inactive because of a personal matter.
"No, we just went with the players we thought would have the bigger role in the game,'' Belichick said.
That seemed to suggest that Thomas no longer was one of those players who was thought of having a "bigger role in the game.''
"When it comes to available and whose active for the game, there's always ongoing discussions,'' Caserio said. "In the end, there's only so many players you can take to the game. In the end, we'll take the players that we feel can help us win the game and give us the best opportunity. But those decisions, in the end, Bill will make those.''
Asked to characterize Thomas's performance so far this season, defensive coordinator Dean Pees said, "There's been some good things and some not so good things. I could say that about every player on defense and I could say that about myself as well; that there's been some good things and some not so good things.
"I just think that the guy's a good athlete and a good player,'' Pees said. ``But just like everybody else, there's some things we need to do better and there's some things we've done well.''
NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who played with Thomas with the Ravens in 2004-05, said on the channel's "GameDay Final" program that he spoke to his former teammate.
"He's upset," Sanders said. "He's going to work it out with his coach but he'll be back."