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The New Orleans Saints brain trust weren’t kidding when they said star receiver Michael Thomas would be coming off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list soon — head coach Dennis Allen echoed comments from general manager Mickey Loomis setting that expectation on Tuesday, and Thomas was busy at work the next day.
The team is activating him from the PUP list. Thomas was seen taking snaps and catching passes in Wednesday’s first training camp practice session, participating in individual drills and running routes against air (doing everything but team drills). It’s a welcome sight after a nearly two-year absence stemming from Thomas’ frustrating ankle injury in the 2020 season-opener, delayed by a setback in an already-postponed surgery last summer.
But he’s been diligent in his recovery and working to get back up to speed, and now that effort is paying off. The Saints are betting on Thomas returning to form as one of the game’s best receivers — envisioning a three-pronged approach featuring rookie first round pick Chris Olave, fan-favorite free agent pickup Jarvis Landry, and Thomas taking the tip of the spear. That’s a strong trio for Jameis Winston to work with, and he’s also got last year’s leading receivers (Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harty, and Tre’Quan Smith) at his disposal.
Still, a lot hinges on Thomas and the health of his ankle. The more reps he’s able to put in during practice, the stronger his trust in the surgically-repaired joint will be, and that allows him to take on a bigger role during the season. Success in the fall starts with hard work in the summer.