|LB Thomas returns to Baltimore with New England|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 13:56|
The linebacker's all-around talents should help Monday night when he returns to the field where he played the past seven years.
With Rosevelt Colvin out for the season, Thomas could replace him at outside linebacker after spending the season at an inside spot. Wherever Thomas lines up, the unbeaten Patriots will have a very productive player.
``He's making plays all over the field,'' cornerback Ellis Hobbs said Wednesday. ``I'll put my money in the bank on him as far as being able to make plays out there.''
With the Ravens, Thomas played linebacker, defensive end and even cornerback. With the Patriots, who signed him to a five-year contract in the offseason as a free agent, he's started nine games at inside linebacker.
In the other two, he came off the bench in the ninth game against Indianapolis when the Patriots started just two linebackers, then began the next game, at Buffalo, at right linebacker when only one inside linebacker started.
``It's always fun to change up, go different places. I think it gives offenses something more to look at,'' Thomas said. ``As I'm told to go somewhere, I go.''
Colvin started all 11 games at outside linebacker, but was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, sidelining him for the season, after he hurt his foot in the third quarter of Sunday night's 31-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thomas actually started all of Baltimore's games at outside linebacker last season. He played so well at that position he was voted a Pro Bowl starter last season, his first selection to the game as a defensive player.
But with Colvin and Mike Vrabel established at outside linebacker, the Patriots shifted him inside, where he shared time with Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau.
On Tuesday, New England re-signed 36-year-old Chad Brown to provide depth. He played 15 games for the Patriots in 2005, but they released him after training camp last year and twice more this season.
``I have played pretty much all the possible linebacker spots around here in the three years I've been here,'' said Brown, who spent Thanksgiving at home with his family in Colorado. ``So wherever coach needs me to play, that's where I'll play. If he needs me to punt, I'll punt.''
That's unlikely, considering the high-scoring Patriots have punted just 24 times this season in piling up an 11-0 record.
Thomas showed his versatility early in the season with an interception he returned 65 yards for a touchdown in the second game, a 38-14 win over San Diego.
The next week, he led the Patriots with nine tackles in a 38-7 win over Buffalo. He hurt the Bills again in the 10th game with 2 1/2 sacks as the Patriots won 56-10, their biggest rout of the season.
``When you can even move your starters around and still play a totally different role in the defense and lose no type of tenacity or any pop in your defense,'' Hobbs said, ``it says a lot.''
The Ravens are 4-7 after losing their last five games. But they have the fourth stingiest defense in the NFL, even without Thomas.
They still have star linebacker Ray Lewis.
He dished out a verbal shot after Thomas was quoted in a magazine saying people in Baltimore, including coach Brian Billick ``sought out the limelight,'' while the Patriots are ``about as different as you can get'' from that.
Lewis's response: ``When you take a shot at men that you claim to love to go to war with, I call those cowards. If you have something to say privately, you don't have to go to a newspaper. If you have something to say to a man, speak it.''
Thomas said this week he had spoken with Lewis, but wanted to put it behind him.
``I'm not talking about that because you're going to take one thing I say and put half of it in the paper and make out of it something that's not,'' Thomas told reporters. ``All the nonsense that was printed that was half-truth, all of that is done with.''
His focus is on the next game.
He even refused to talk about last Sunday night's game in which he shifted to outside linebacker after Colvin was hurt. He was more than willing to talk about his former team being just the next team on the schedule.
``It's not Baltimore versus me,'' Thomas said. ``The biggest thing is just prepare for this game just like another game.''
Except for the likelihood he'll practice more at outside linebacker.
An easy transition?
``Yeah,'' he said with a laugh. ``It should be all right.''