OL Thomas happy back in N.E.

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
3:00
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Offensive lineman Donald Thomas called the recent stretch of his career a "bumpy ride", but he's hoping his arrival in New England is the start of something less turbulent.


Mike Reiss/ESPN BostonDonald Thomas at his locker Wednesday at Gillette Stadium.


"It's a great opportunity," he said.

Thomas entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice of the Dolphins in 2008. He was quickly elevated into the starting lineup in his first training camp, but sustained a season-ending foot injury in the opener that year, before returning in 2009 and started 12 games. He hooked on with the Lions in 2010, but hasn't played since the '09 season.

In New England, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Thomas adds depth to the interior offensive line, where center Dan Koppen is out after fracturing his left ankle in Monday's season opener. The Patriots plan to move Dan Connolly from guard to center, and now Thomas gives them another option at guard along with starter Brian Waters and reserve Ryan Wendell.

"Me and Brian Waters were just eating lunch and going over the playbook," Thomas relayed. "The good part about it is that this offense is a lot similar to what I'm used to running in Miami, so I'm able to pick up some of the schemes."

As for being back in New England, the graduate of New Haven (Conn.) High School is excited.

"It's great. I never thought I'd be able to play this close to him, two hours away from where I grew up," the former UConn star said. "My family is really happy that I'm close by. It feels good to get four seasons again."

Coach Bill Belichick detailed what the Patriots see in Thomas.

"We played against him in preseason [vs. Detroit], worked him out here last week. Strong, good physical player who has played inside, but also has a little bit of experience playing tackle," he said. "So we’ll work with him and see how it goes."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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