Newcomer Thomas making sudden impact with Patriots

Glen Farley

In Bill Belichick's opinion, there's really no doubting Thomas.

"Personally and professionally, we are very impressed with Adalius Thomas," the New England Patriots head coach said at the time of the linebacker's signing as an unrestricted free agent exactly five months ago today. "His playmaking, toughness, intelligence, versatility and character were all factors in our decision to pursue him."

Having invested $35 million in the former Baltimore Raven over the next five seasons, the Patriots are banking that Thomas can offer plenty of aid in their pursuit of opposing ball carriers.

According to the player closest to him the first week of the Patriots' Gillette Stadium training camp, it appears as though that investment is ready to pay dividends.

"If you just look at Adalius, he's a big, strong guy, and he can do a lot of things," inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said during a recent break at camp. "We were talking about versatility. That's the first thing you have to talk about, the many things he can do, and right now we're seeing it."

While Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will no doubt script plots to move him around in an attempt to create mismatches, Thomas has spent the bulk of the first week of training camp alongside Bruschi at inside linebacker in the team's 3-4 scheme.

That represents a change for Thomas, who was most often employed on the outside in Baltimore.

"I enjoy playing football," Thomas said, downplaying the change. "As long as I'm in between the lines, I'm fine. When I get over there beside you guys (in the media), then I have a problem."

The 6-foot-2, 270-pounder posed a big problem to foes in Baltimore where, three years after earning Pro Bowl honors for his play on special teams, he earned a second trip to Hawaii for his performance in registering 106 tackles and 11 sacks at linebacker last season. The season before that, Thomas eclipsed the 100-tackle plateau (104) with nine sacks.

But that was all yesterday, a point Thomas has emphasizeds time and time again to those who pose questions to him about the seven years he spent with the Ravens.

"When I left Baltimore," said Thomas, a sixth-round pick of the Ravens out of Southern Mississippi in the 2000 NFL draft, "I kind of left it behind."

Thomas makes it clear he is strictly looking ahead.

A sports administration major in college, as he assimilates himself into a linebacking corps that includes other long-time veterans, the likes of Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin and Junior Seau, Thomas says he is now majoring in one of the sciences.

It's all about chemistry now.

"Everything you do you have to deal with chemistry and knowing what the other guy sees and everything else," said Thomas. "It's been going great. It's a work in progress, (a matter of) just working hard on learning your plays and getting better each and every day."