Adalius Thomas has been deactivated for today's Patriots-Titans tilt, a bombshell that comes pretty much out of nowhere. Thomas did not appear on the Patriots' injury report all week but did not practice on Thursday and Friday before the game against the Broncos for "not injury related" reasons.
Left tackle Matt Light (knee) and wide receiver Joey Galloway (healthy scratch for the third straight week) likewise were deactivated for the Patriots. Light was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report, and rookie Sebastian Vollmer lined up at left tackle during the team's warmup drills. (That leaves Nick Kaczur at his more traditional spot at right tackle.) Galloway continues to look like a bust for the Patriots, who once again chose to leave the veteran in street clothes and go with Sam Aiken and Julian Edelman as their third and fourth receivers.
The absence of Thomas and the activation of both Jerod Mayo and Junior Seau could mean that Gary Guyton will move back to outside linebacker. Guyton has played mostly middle linebacker so far this season -- and in the Patriots' nickel package against Denver, Guyton and Mayo played alongside one another with no outside linebackers on the field. If the Patriots want to go with any type of traditional base formation, be it a 4-3 or a 3-4, they're left with only Pierre Woods and journeyman Rob Ninkovich as outside linebackers. Guyton and his speed might be a fit out there.
The deactivation of Thomas appears to be a performance-based decision, something that's tough to figure given the way the Patriots have used Thomas to this point. It seemed as though the arrival of Seau and the return of Mayo would create opportunities for Thomas on the outside, but unless there's a Jonathan Wilhite-type situation, Bill Belichick has decided that his team is better without Thomas on the field this week.
(It shouldn't be a surprise that Seau is active. With his understanding of the Patriots' system and his fanaticism about keeping himself in shape, there really were no obstacles to his playing this week.)
Safety James Sanders was limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury and was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report; he likewise is inactive. That would be a far bigger deal, however, if not for the emergence of Brandon McGowan, an offseason acquisition who has overtaken Sanders on the depth chart at safety. Sanders was inactive a week ago as well, but the versatility of veteran Shawn Springs and the team's depth at cornerback allowed the Patriots to go with five or six defensive backs at a time as necessary.