The Patriots newest addition to the linebacking corps, Adalius Thomas, was a key contributor at Baltimore, which led the league in total defense last season. He earned his second Pro Bowl nod, leading him to Hawaii where he reportedly met coachBill Belichick, by recording the third-most tackles on the team (103), the second-most sacks (11.0) and a pick. Against the Raiders, he became the first player in Ravens history to record a sack, an interception and a safety in the same game. Given his outstanding play last season, many expected Baltimore to place the franchise tag on him.
Obviously, the Ravens front office decided against franchising Thomas, but a few years ago, it wouldn't even have been a consideration for this rising star. Coming out of college, many thought Thomas lacked the closing speed to be an effective pass rusher, but he's more than answered those questions while producing more sacks than any other NFL linebacker since 2004 (28 for minus-162 yards). Over the last three seasons, there have been 25 games where he had at least one sack. The Ravens boasted an 18-7 record in those games. He's known for his excellent timing on blitzes and uses his hands well to shed blockers.
His talent doesn't stop at pass rushing. In five of Baltimore's 16 regular season games last year, the Ravens defense allowed fewer than 40 rushing yards. Thomas is an excellent run stopper with the strength to hold his ground at the point of attack and take on double teams. Working in the trenches, he was a big reason the Ravens defense played so well against the run.
Getting to know "A.D."
- While attending Central Coosa High School in Equality, Alabama, Thomas led his basketball team to the state title as the leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker.
- In 2003, he got his first Pro Bowl appearance as a special teamer while starting games at linebacker and defensive end and leading the team in special teams tackles (23).
- In the Patriots last meeting with the Ravens, back in November of 2004, Thomas recorded five solo tackles and an assist. Baltimore's defense, which had given up a league-low 14 points per game in the 10 games prior, allowed only one offensive touchdown, by former Patriots running back Corey Dillon.
- In 2005, he became the first Ravens player ever to record three defensive touchdowns in a season while leading the team with 9.0 sacks and recording 104 tackles.
- Thomas is an avid chess player and annually hosts the Adalius Thomas Charity Chess Match.
- Friends call him A.D., since his middle name is Donquail. He's also frequently referred to as "Slash," which makes sense given the number of positions he's played in the NFL (linebacker/cornerback/safety/defensive lineman), but the field isn't the only place Thomas' nickname applies. Back in 2002, he developed the S.L.A.S.H. (Sportsmen Lifting Academics & Sponsoring Hope) fund to help underprivileged youth. The non-profit group organizes and funds many different events and programs for the children of Baltimore, and has kept Thomas extremely active in the community.