To his credit, Adalius Thomasdidn't shy away from the throng of reporters hovering around his locker on Wednesday.
A.D., as he's known (those are his first and middle initials), spent nearly seven minutes answering question after question about the circumstances surrounding his being made inactive for this past Sunday's 59-0 blowout of the Tennessee Titans.
The move, which was announced when all inactive lists are announced – less than an hour before kickoff – caught most observers off-guard, including Thomas. His position coach, Matt Patricia, broke the news to him just before the inactive list was made public.
"Surprised me, too," Thomas acknowledged, before quickly adding, "You know, I'm doing fine."
Media speculation instantly ignited, as reporters sought to make sense of the out-of-left-field demotion of Thomas, one of the highest paid Patriots and a starter at linebacker since he arrived in Foxborough in 2007.
Was he injured before the game? Was he being dangled as trade bait? Turned out he was neither and was a healthy scratch from the lineup, leading to further questions about head coach Bill Belichick'sdecision.
Was this a motivational tool to generate more production for Thomas and perhaps other players on the Patriots?
Thomas chuckled at the question before repeating it and answering, "Motivate me? … Um, ask Bill. He has all the answers. He's the only person that can answer that … I mean, I think I can play better, but I can only speak for myself."
Given all the uncertainty surrounding Thomas' situation, he was asked if his frame of mind toward the team, his coaches, and his role with the team has been tarnished in any way.
"I come to work every day and be a professional and do what I'm asked to do. That's how I'm going to handle it," he responded. "No one person is bigger than the game. No one person is bigger than the team. It's bigger than me. We went out, we had a good game, we won. So, we're moving on to Tampa."
Thomas seemed to suggest that he and Belichick haven't discussed the matter and it didn't appear that Thomas had any intention of seeking out his head coach to hash out their differences.
"It's not about me and Bill. We're fine," Thomas insisted. "It seems like y'all have a bigger problem with him than I do. Whatever decision Bill makes, I respect that. Whether I agree with it is something totally different. But it's not about me. It's about the Patriots versus Tampa right now."
The question now is, will Thomas be part of the Patriots lineup Sunday in London when New England meets the Buccaneers?
"Yeah, I'll be ready," he replied. "I'm ready every Sunday."
Clock has started on Tate, LeVoir
As noted in Tuesday's update, Belichick has started the three-week clock on OL Mark LeVoirand rookie WR Brandon Tateby allowing them to take part in yesterday's walkthrough practice. LeVoir and Tate, who are on the PUP and NFI lists, respectively, are eligible to practice with the team and must either be activated, placed on injured reserve, or released sometime between now and the next few weeks.
However, with injuries to starters and key contributors at both the offensive line (LT Matt Light) and wide receiver (rookie Julian Edelman reportedly broke his arm against the Titans), plus the release of veteran WR Joey Galloway, it appears that Tate's chances of being activated sooner rather than later have increased.
He spoke to reporters at length in front of his locker Wednesday before practice.
"I'm glad this moment has come," he began.
Tate proclaimed himself fit and "ready to go," adding that his biggest task at this point is winning the confidence of his coaches and his quarterback, Tom Brady.
"There's no pressure," he contended. "I'm just going to do what I can do. Learn the plays and go out there and get better every day."
Wednesday locker room/practice notes
Five players were absent from the start of practice: Edelman, RBs Fred Taylorand Sammy Morris, Light and rookie CB Darius Butler.
Both LeVoir and Tate were on the field in full pads, along with the rest of the Patriots.
Five players also were awarded black, practice-player-of-the-week jerseys: QBs Brian Hoyerand Isaiah Stanback, CB Terrence Wheatley, LB Derrick Burgess, and practice squad rookie DL Darryl Richard.
Just three days after playing in a snowstorm, the Pats practiced under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s – a typical fluctuation of weather here in New England.