FOXBOROUGH — For the first time since his rookie season of 2000, when he was a special teamer and a reserve linebacker, Adalius Thomas is a healthy inactive, according to a league source.
He is not even at Gillette Stadium for today’s game.
The news that Thomas, who is in the third year of a five-year, $35 million deal, is inactive without an injury is the biggest news prior to the start of today’s game between the Patriots and Titans.
Thomas was not on the team’s injury report for today’s game.
It will be interesting to see if Patriots coach Bill Belichick provides an explanation after the game for Thomas’s absence.
It seems curious that Thomas would be a no-go by coach’s decision and 40-year-old linebacker Junior Seau, who came out of pseudo-retirement on Wednesday to rejoin the Patriots, would be active.
Without Thomas that leaves the Patriots with Pierre Woods, Tully Banta-Cain, Derrick Burgess and Rob Ninkovich as linebackers capable of playing outside in a 3-4 look. It also leaves them thin inside with just Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton and Seau on the roster as linebackers capable of playing inside in a 4-3 or a 3-4.
An injury to an inside linebacker would be problematic for the Patriots without Thomas’s versatility to play both inside and outside in the 3-4. The loss of Thomas also calls into question how the Patriots will approach their sub-packages since he was often on the field for those because of his coverage skills.
None of the other inactives are a huge surprise. Running back Fred Taylor (ligament damage in his right ankle), left tackle Matt Light (right knee) and safety James Sanders (shoulder) are all injured.
With Light out, the Patriots added more depth along the offensive line by having guard Kendall Simmons active for the first time this year. Belichick has said in the past that Logan Mankins is athletic enough to play tackle in a pinch. That is likely the plan if either rookie Sebastian Vollmer or Nick Kaczur goes down.
Joey Galloway continues to be unable to even get in uniform, never mind on the field, as he is inactive for the third straight week. You have to wonder at what point the Patriots just cut their losses and try to do something else with Galloway’s roster spot.
Rookie defensive lineman Ron Brace is also inactive for the third straight game, which is notable because the Patriots released nose tackle Terdell Sands to make room for Seau.
Second-year cornerback Terrence Wheatley is inactive for the fifth time in six games. The only time he was active was against Atlanta, when Jonathan Wilhite was unable to go after he injured himself in an off-field incident.
Rookie Rich Ohrnberger hasn’t been active yet this year.