Michael Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu join 11-on-11 team drills at Saints camp

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This is a big step forward: the New Orleans Saints are asking a lot of Michael Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu this year, and both players made significant progress at training camp on Saturday by participating in team drills for the first time. Practice initially began outdoors at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in front of fans, but moved inside due to inclement weather.

Thomas has been sidelined for most of two years with a complicated ankle injury, though the Saints have been steadily ramping up his activity throughout camp. Mathieu was away from the team for the first week of practices with an excused absence, and they chose to work him up steadily over a few days upon his return rather than throw him into the fire right away.

Now they’re both where they need to be, Mathieu running with the rest of the starting lineup on defense and Thomas spearheading the offense. Thomas’ first play in Saturday’s 11-on-11 session was a quick catch from Jameis Winston’s first throw. It’s important that those two get on the same page in a hurry considering Thomas has logged just one career reception from Winston in the regular season. They’ll be aiming to complete a hundred or more passes together this year, so every opportunity to team up in practice helps.

It’s easy to get excited about this development, but it’s important to remember that this is just part of the process. There are several more weeks of practice and three preseason games to navigate before Sept. 11’s regular season kickoff with the Atlanta Falcons. But this is a step in the right direction for both players, and it’s worth monitoring as the summer marches on.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire