Thomas was disciplined earlier in week

New England Patriots outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, who was disciplined for being late for a team meeting earlier this week and spoke out about it, was benched for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

He was listed on the team's inactive list before the game but was not listed on the team's injury report at all this week, meaning he is a healthy scratch. The benching was first reported Saturday night by the NFL Network, a report that was confirmed by a league source.

Thomas was one of four players sent home Wednesday for being late to an 8 a.m. meeting. The other three players -- Randy Moss, Gary Guyton and Derrick Burgess -- were all active for Sunday's game.

Thomas said he was late because of snowy conditions and was stuck in traffic.

"That's one thing about Mother Nature, you can't control that. You can't run people over getting to work," Thomas said Thursday. "There is nothing to really apologize about. I didn't try to be late. You leave home, you have people there, cars sitting in the road, you're sitting there, what do you do? It's not the Jetsons, I can't jump up and just fly. What the heck am I supposed to do?"

Asked whether he thought Patriots coach Belichick was trying to motivate the players by sending them home, Thomas had a strong response.

"Motivation is for kindergartners. I'm not a kindergartner," Thomas said. "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?"

Belichick dodged questions about Thomas' remarks the next day, saying his focus was solely on the Panthers.

Thomas, who was a healthy scratch for a game earlier this year as well, acknowledged Thursday that this has been a frustrating season.

"Real frustrating. But it is what it is," Thomas said. "One thing about being a professional, there are good things and bad things. So you know there are a lot of things you can say or whatever. It's just not a good time. I don't want people to think -- it was put out there like I just didn't show up or didn't have a reason, and nobody knew. That's not true. That's not the case at all. That being the case, I was trying to be a professional and let them know traffic is bad and I might not make it on time. After you do that, there is nothing else you can really do."

Mike Reiss is ESPNBoston.com's Patriots reporter. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.