Patriots LB Thomas shies away from commenting on Ryan's remarks

BOSTON -- Adalius Thomas loves to joke around, just like the brash defensive coordinator he played for with the Ravens.

Unlike Rex Ryan, though, the Patriots linebacker isn't shooting barbs at other members of the AFC East.

2008 Statistics
G/GS: 9/9

Tackles: 34

Sacks: 5

Ryan, the new coach of the New York Jets, has already tweaked New England coach Bill Belichick and Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. So what does Thomas think of the coach whose style he saw up close in Baltimore?

"It's funny," he said Thursday, his usual wide smile creasing his face. "It's something that you normally don't see in the media in June, so it's something you (reporters) really jump all over and really go from New York to Miami and then come here with it and expect me to pour gas on it.

"No," he said with a laugh, "no thank you."

Ryan was a defensive coach in all seven of Thomas' seasons with the Ravens, the last two as coordinator. Thomas joined the Patriots as a free agent in May 2007, but missed much of last season with a broken right forearm that he says is "fine" now.

The Jets hired Ryan after firing the relatively humorless Eric Mangini. Last week, the son of Buddy Ryan, an outspoken defensive coordinator himself with the Chicago Bears when they beat the Patriots 46-10 in the 1986 Super Bowl, opened his mouth.

He said in a radio interview that he "never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings" and said he wasn't intimidated by the coach who led the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships this decade.

After Ryan expressed confidence in his team during organized team activities, Crowder said sarcastically that Ryan must be excited because he's a first-time head coach and that he won the OTA Super Bowl.

"I don't know this Channing Crowder," Ryan said without being prompted. "All I know is that he's all tatted up, so I guess I ought to be nervous about him."

Crowder responded: "If he wants to be prepared, shouldn't he know the starting middle linebackers of his division rival?"

Belichick, typically, refused to be baited by Ryan's comments.

"I have a lot of respect for Rex," he said Wednesday. "We've always had great battles with the Jets, so I'm sure that will continue. It's a good rivalry."


On Thursday, Thomas joked about the offseason antics some six weeks before training camp even starts.

"It was funny," he told reporters who rarely get sidesplitting one-liners from Belichick. "I mean, it's Rex. So it was funny. You guys aren't used to it, though."

Some of Ryan may have rubbed off on Thomas. On and off the field, the Patriot can be lighthearted.

"He's kind of a jokester on the team, but when you do make a mistake or if he sees something that he can help you out with, he'll definitely help you out," second-year cornerback Terrence Wheatley said. "Pretty much whatever he feels like saying, he's going to say."

On Friday, the Patriots wind up a three-day minicamp that has produced little news. Even Vince Wilfork, the nose tackle who skipped voluntary OTAs hoping it would help him get a new contract, attended the mandatory minicamp and said there was no bad blood between him and the team.

The players practice but don't wear pads in the non-contact drills.

So when the new head coach of a team that already has an intense rivalry with the Patriots said, "I'm not going to concede anything" to Belichick, and that same new coach spars verbally with Crowder, he becomes a topic of conversation.

"That's between him and Crowder, or whatever the guy's name is," Thomas said. "I think you guys are just enjoying it right now. You have nothing else to cover and so I think you're all just really taking something and really jumping all over it."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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