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Thomas reacts to early dismissal; Thu notes

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He knew the questions were coming, and he stood there and answered them all for more than 11 minutes.

Linebacker Adalius Thomas, one of the four players sent home by head coach Bill Belichickon Wednesday for showing up late to an 8 a.m. team meeting, attributed his tardiness to the inclement weather.

"I think everyone woke up to the snow yesterday. I didn't know it was going to snow," he conceded. "There was traffic. I can't run people over getting to work. I don't do that. I actually almost had a car accident. It is what it is."

He added that he was surprised by the punishment he and WR Randy Mossand fellow LBs Gary Guytonand Derrick Burgessreceived, considering that Thomas called ahead to alert the team that he was likely going to be a few minutes late because he fighting rush-hour traffic and the snowy roads.

When asked how late he was, Thomas initially said that was immaterial, but when pressed, he estimated he was nine minutes behind schedule.

"That's what I was told to do, when you think you're going to be late, notify," Thomas continued. "I was trying to be a professional and let them know traffic is bad and I might not make it on time. After you do that, there is nothing else you can really do.

"That's one thing about Mother Nature. You can't control that. You can't run people over getting to work. There is nothing to really apologize about. I didn't try to be late. That's basically it, though. I don't know what else to say. You leave home, you have people there, cars sitting in the road, you're sitting there, what do you do? It's not the Jetsons, I can't jump up and just fly. What the heck am I supposed to do?"

Thomas seemed to imply that he wasn't treated professionally, and was asked, point-blank, if that's how he felt.

"That's a personal thing, you know. He's the head coach, he makes all the calls. So, whether you agree with it or not, you just roll with him," he replied.

"[Bill] did what he thought was best for him. That's what he did."

With all the extra time home, Thomas joked that he sat there with his feet up all day, but then added, on a serious note, that he took advantage of that quiet time to watch more film of this week's opponent, the Carolina Panthers.

Thomas concluded that he and Belichick haven't spoken about the incident since, and the linebacker doesn't plan to do so, either.

"There is nothing to talk about," he insisted.

Butler trying to maintain confidence

Despite being a frequent target of the Miami passing attack last week, rookie cornerback Darius Butlercontends that his confidence hasn't been shaken, but he acknowledges that opponents may try to replicate the success the Dolphins had against him.

"Till I make some plays," he told reporters, "I'm probably going to keep being attacked. The defensive left side of the field is usually the strong side of the offense, because most quarterbacks are left-handed. I don't expect anything different."

That's where Butler has lined up most often this season, and if he's there on Sunday versus Carolina, he'll likely be introduced to Panthers Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith.

"He's really explosive … fast, great hands, probably the best receiver we've faced to this point," said Butler, who added that he's anxious to get back on the field to prove himself.

"Very anxious. The best thing about it is we have another opportunity and a few more games left in the season to step up and do some things. I'm looking forward to it."

Thursday locker room/practice notes

All four of the early-dismissal players from Wednesday's snow incident were back on the practice field Thursday, as were RB Fred Taylorand DL Ty Warren, who both did not participate yesterday. However, QB Tom Bradywas not on the field for the start of practice after missing yesterday's workout. Rookie DL Myron Pryorand LB Eric Alexanderwere also among the absentees Thursday.

The Patriots again donned shells and sweats, but with sunny skies and a plowed field, the team took their practice outdoors in the near-freezing cold and wind of Foxborough.

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