DATs DAVIS: Saints Fans Should Feel Optimistic About Michael Thomas Despite Player Being Placed on PUP List
Nick Underhill from NOF reported that on Thursday that Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas was placed on the PUP list alongside defensive end Marcus Davenport to start Training Camp. Many among the fanbase believe that being placed on the PUP list to start camp means that Thomas won’t be available for at least six weeks of the upcoming season, and have since voiced their displeasure about the news. Here is why you should actually be feeling optimistic about where Michael Thomas is health wise.
Thomas originally suffered, what was said to be, a high ankle sprain during their 2020 season opening win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. Despite the setback, Thomas decided to play through the injury by playing in seven games. Thomas totaled 40 receptions for 438 yards, including the postseason where he scored a touchdown reception, and his season long reception of 24 yards, in the Wild Card round against the Chicago Bears.
During the year of 2021, tensions rose between Thomas & the Saints organization surrounding the injury he had sustained. Thomas was away from the Saints facility, not answering any calls from former Saints Head Coach Sean Payton or the team, and even put out a cryptic tweet that insinuated that the organization was trying to damage his reputation. The tweet read “They tried to damage your reputation. You saved theirs by not telling your side of the story.” Thomas had surgery on his ankle in June 2021 to repair ligaments, including a torn deltoid.
Relations between both parties started to mend during the 2021 season, as Thomas was continuing his rehab in hopes of making a return at some point in the regular season. Sean Payton had plenty of good to say about the star receiver regarding his recovery when asked by Saints media after Thomas was spotted on the Saints sidelines, “Well, look he’s part of the team. It was great seeing him. He’s doing well. He’s ahead of schedule.”
Unfortunately, there was a setback during his rehab process which led to him announcing that he was going to miss all of 2021 in hopes of returning for 2022 fully healthy. Sean Payton stated that the setback had nothing to do with his original injury, but rather the procedure Thomas had. “I think it’s accurate to say there was a setback. The setback was more to do with the procedure he had. It wasn’t anything to do with –he’s working his tail off.”
After the 2021-22 season ended for the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton announced that he was stepping down as head coach. The team appointed Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen as their new head coach ahead of the 2022 season. Relations between the team and Thomas quickly improved, as Allen has reportedly been in constant contact with the wide receiver and even personally flew out to meet Thomas in California. The two are said to be on the same page with where things are, and it has shown thus far with Thomas being at the team’s facility for his rehab. The receiver was spotted standing on the sidelines during Saints mini-camp, which is a big improvement compared to last year.
The mentality he’s displayed is a breath of fresh air, as he appears to be completely locked in to being ready for Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons. There’s been a noticeable level of transparency with Saints media from Dennis Allen regarding Thomas’ condition. When asked if Thomas was going to be medically cleared to start training camp, Allen said that it was “doubtful” and that Thomas still has “a few hurdles to climb”.
“I know he’s working extremely hard to get himself back and ready to go. He’s really committed to the season and looking forward to getting started,” Allen said.
Thomas has returned to social media after deactivating his Twitter & Instagram accounts, and has since posted clips and videos of his rehab. In a recent video that Thomas posted to his Instagram story, he looked to be more comfortable and confident. He making aggressive cuts & running routes on his surgically repaired ankle. Last time we’d seen Thomas on the field, he was still a productive, reliable receiver. Thomas had 37 receptions for 343 receiving yards over a four game stretch when Taysom Hill was filling in as backup quarterback to Drew Brees, who had suffered a rib injury against the San Francisco 49ers.
In conclusion, being on the PUP list ahead of training camp does not mean that they will be out for six weeks of the regular season. NOF’s Nick Underhill tweeted that Thomas is able to come off the PUP list as soon as the next day, if deemed ready to play. Dennis Allen does not want to rush Thomas back prematurely, he wants to make sure he is 100% ready to return as the team aims to make an aggressive push this 2022 season with the NFC being as wide open as it’s ever going to be.