Thomas was asked if the punishment could be motivational.
"Motivation is for kindergarteners," Thomas told reporters Thursday. "I'm not a kindergartner. Sending somebody home, that's like, 'He's expelled. Come back and make good grades.' Get that [expletive] out of here. That's ridiculous. Motivation?"
All four latecomers were on the practice field Thursday, but there are no guarantees Belichick is through with them.
Thomas already was a healthy scratch once before. Belichick benched him in Week 6 against the Tennessee Titans, and Thursday's comments could keep him in street clothes Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
But what about the other three?
Could Belichick make a bolder statement by scratching Moss, Guyton and Burgess at a critical time?
Perhaps he should, but perhaps he cannot afford to.
Benching a few starters certainly would grab the locker room's attention at a time when it might be needed.