Bleacher Report labels Michael Thomas the Saints’ biggest X-factor in 2023

Bleacher Report identified Michael Thomas the Saints’ X-factor after returning from injury. A strong season from Thomas would elevate the WR corps | @southexclusives

Bleacher Report has identified Michael Thomas as the New Orleans Saints X-factor in 2023. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox describes an X-factor as a player who can “make or break how a team’s campaign unfolds,” or someone whose “successes or struggles will greatly impact the team’s fortunes this year.”

And their pick was Thomas. Here’s what Knox had to say about No. 13:

“Thomas was once, unquestionably, an elite wide receiver. Over his first four years in the league, he amassed 470 receptions, three Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections while leading the NFL in receptions twice.

However, injuries began to derail Thomas’ career in 2020, and he has compiled a mere 609 receiving yards over the past three years. He is seeking a resurgent season, and the offseason reports have been encouraging.”

Thomas has the ability to elevate this passing game to a different level is able to come back and play well. He won’t be asked to be as dominant as he was before injury. At that time, he was carrying the receiving corps. Now he is joined by Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed, along with Juwan Johnson at tight end.

He wouldn’t break the Saints if he didn’t perform well, but his success would elevate the passing game. He will be a key factor in the red zone and in the middle of the field. For the first time in a while, Thomas will be a part of a unit. He will be the X-factor that determines just how high that unit can go.

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Now healthy, Michael Thomas eager to move on after multiple frustrating surgeries

Now healthy, Michael Thomas is eager to move on after years of frustration. He says his body rejected surgically-implanted hardware, slowing his recovery:

It’s been a rough couple of years for Michael Thomas. The New Orleans Saints’ record-breaking wide receiver has been sidelined for most of the last three years with injuries to his left ankle and right foot, with extended absences leading to friction between the former fan-favorite and some vocal portions of the fanbase.

And it’s been more frustrating for Thomas than anyone. It’s his body that’s been damaged. And what was supposed to be a healing process achieved the opposite effect, leading to a series of surgeries and starts-and-stops on the Saints’ roster.

“I don’t want to use this as an excuse,” Thomas told ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, “But also, when you get surgeries and they put hardware in, sometimes your body rejects the hardware.”

Thomas shared that this was a recurring problem “with both” his ankle and toe surgeries, continuing: “Your body responds and healing responds to it. Whatever, I guess is, the 1%? I guess I’m in that category.”

These kinds of setbacks aren’t common, but they do happen. A variety of allergies and hypersensitivities can lead to painful reactions and disrupt the healing process. Thomas didn’t have a lengthy history of injuries or sports surgeries before these two incidents, so it’s not like it’s something he — or the team’s doctors — could have anticipated.

What’s important is that he’s on the other side of it now. He’s healthy, practicing daily, and looking to be a big part of what the Saints hope to achieve on offense this year. Thomas helped recruit Derek Carr to New Orleans. If all goes as hoped, this could end up looking like a hiatus in the career of one of the most accomplished receivers in the NFL’s modern era.

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Dennis Allen says Michael Thomas passed his physical, anticipates full participation

Dennis Allen says Michael Thomas passed his physical, anticipates full participation at New Orleans Saints training camp:

This was previously reported by NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill, but it’s reassuring to hear it from the head coach himself. Dennis Allen was asked for a status update on Michael Thomas during his press conference before the start of New Orleans Saints training camp, and he made it clear that Thomas expects to see the practice field early and often.

“Our expectation is Mike’s going to be a full participant,” Allen said. “Look, he came in last Thursday, did his physical, went through the conditioning test. Looked great. Moved around awesome. He’s in good shape. Yeah, our expectation is Mike will be a full participant, and if I’m not mistaken that’s what Mike said he would do when he left (the facility) back in the spring. Generally when Mike sets his mind to something he gets it done.”

A dislocated toe ended the 2022 season for Thomas after just three games, in which he ranked among the league’s leaders for receptions, first down conversions, and touchdown catches. That’s after he missed most of the two years prior with a complicated ankle injury and subsequent surgeries. Now he’s looking to prove he’s still as dangerous as any other receiver in the NFL, having gotten healthy and helped recruit Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr. Allen is certainly optimistic, which is a reflection of Thomas’s own thinking. Let’s see what he does when the Saints get to work Wednesday afternoon.

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Report: Saints expect Michael Thomas to be a full participant at training camp

Report: New Orleans Saints expect Michael Thomas to be a full participant when training camp practice kicks off Wednesday

This is encouraging: NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill reports that the Saints anticipate wideout Michael Thomas being a full participant when they kick off training camp practice on Wednesday. Thomas has missed most of the last three seasons battling different lower-leg injuries, and he was a late addition to their spring practices during organized team activities, but it sounds like he’s back. He at least isn’t expected to open camp on the PUP or NFI lists.

That’s going to be a major boon for the Saints offense with Derek Carr at quarterback. Thomas started his career on a historic pace, peaking with Offensive Player of the Year recognition in 2019, but injuries have taken a toll on him. If he’s able to be even half the player he once was it takes a ton of pressure off young guys like Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed.

We’ll even settle for the Thomas we saw early last season, when he caught 16 passes for 171 yards and 13 first down conversions, scoring 3 touchdown receptions in just 3 games. Stay tuned.

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Saints WR Michael Thomas sends message to doubters on social media

Michael Thomas expresses confidence heading into 2023 season, sends message to doubters on social media | @crissy_froyd

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New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is undoubtedly one of the most heralded to see the field at the position over recent history, but as tends to happen with these things, he’s developed some doubters since he has been injured.

Thomas has gone back and forth with the injury bug since 2019, but it has not stopped him from putting up an impressive overall stat line of 526 receptions for 6,121 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns on his career.

Those are numbers he will look to only continue to build upon moving forward. And he does not exactly care who thinks he cannot do just that. Thomas made that clear in a recent Instagram story post.

“They was hatin (sic) on 530×1 back in mid April so there go 575×5 go smoke that,” Thomas wrote in the post to social media.

Despite the fact he was sidelined for the better part of 2022, it is important to note how well Thomas opened things up with three touchdowns over the first three contests of the season, despite the fact he was not able to see action at all for the remaining 14 contests on the schedule.

How Thomas performs in what looks to be a playoffs or bust season will be something to keep an eye on as he prepares for a reemergence of sorts.

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Michael Thomas thrilled to be working with Derek Carr, compares him to Drew Brees

Michael Thomas says he’s thrilled to be working with Derek Carr, praising his new quarterback’s command of the huddle and Drew Brees-like discipline:

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Derek Carr was one of the first people Michael Thomas greeted when he walked onto the practice field at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Tuesday, and he made it clear after practice how excited he is to be working with his new quarterback.

“Oh he’s been amazing,” Thomas said, reiterating, “Amazing. I can’t wait to get out there with him and create something special, a connection. Just the way he commands the huddle, the sense of urgency, he’s a pro. It’s great for these young guys to see.”

In a lot of ways, Thomas says Carr reminds him of his old quarterback Drew Brees. Between his command of the huddle and his presence at the facility, Thomas feels that he and his teammates can learn a lot from their new passer: “His demeanor (stands out). Just everything, just watching him from when he gets in the building, kind of like Drew was, when he was watching film you could learn from him, in the locker room you could learn from him. Anywhere in the building you could learn something different from them that makes them how they are, and I respect (Carr) a lot. I love talking football with him. He loves football.”

Thomas added that he’s expecting to begin training camp at full speed after finishing his recovery from last year’s toe surgery, which currently has the team limiting him to individual work at OTAs. He’ll ramp up his activity level over the summer and do everything he can to be an asset for this team moving forward. Having a quarterback he believes in as strongly as Carr is powerful motivational.

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Michael Thomas makes surprise appearance at Saints OTAs

Michael Thomas made a surprise appearance at Saints OTAs on Tuesday, working with his coaches and catching passes from Derek Carr:

This is new: the New Orleans Saints hit the practice field on Tuesday with wide receiver Michael Thomas in attendance, working off to the side with coaches and members of the training staff while catching passes from his new quarterback Derek Carr (plus Jameis Winston and Jake Haener when they weren’t needed for other drills).

It’s surprising because just last week Saints general manager Mickey Loomis made it sound like they didn’t expect Thomas to be at the facility until training camp, but now he’s present and working. The Saints are still limiting his participation as he finishes rehab from last year’s toe surgery, but Thomas said after practice he plans on “Day 1, full speed,” when training camp opens in late July.

Here are some photos, videos, and highlights from Thomas at Tuesday’s practice session:

Sports Illustrated predicts a big year for Michael Thomas in 2023

Sports Illustrated predicts a big year for Michael Thomas in 2023, saying his efforts to recruit Derek Carr won’t be in vain:

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What are your bold predictions for the 2023 NFL season? Kickoff is still months away, but that’s not stopping many fans and analysts in the media from speculating about what may happen when teams hit the field in September.

The latest round of season predictions and hot takes comes from Conor Orr at Sports Illustrated, who laid out 100 predictions for 2023. But the only mention for the New Orleans Saints centers on wide receiver Michael Thomas, who Orr expects to bounce back in a big way with Derek Carr at quarterback:

The Saints receiver, who once caught 149 passes in a season and logged more than 1,700 receiving yards, was never the same following that 2019 season. But that does not mean he can’t be great again. Derek Carr will bring out the best in this workhorse receiver, whom the Saints could have easily gotten rid of this offseason.

Thomas played a part in recruiting Carr this offseason, and he’s hoping to reestablish himself as one of the league’s best receivers now that the Saints have gotten a quarterback he believes in. He started the 2022 campaign strong with Jameis Winston under center, ranking among the NFL’s receiving leaders with 16 receptions and 3 touchdown grabs in the first three games, only to go down with a season-ending foot injury.

That’s after Thomas was limited in 2020 with an ankle injury that prevented him from playing at all in 2021. It’s taken a long, frustrating path for him to get back to where he was in 2019 but Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is pleased with his progress and says Thomas will be ready to go when the team gathers for training camp in late July. If Thomas and Carr can be as effective a pairing as Carr was with Davante Adams last season — the Raiders’ duo combined for 100 receptions, 1,516 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdown completions — these years of disappointment will finally and firmly put in rearview.

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Mickey Loomis says Saints expect Michael Thomas to return for training camp

Mickey Loomis says the New Orleans Saints expect wide receiver Michael Thomas to return for training camp after recovering from last year’s injury:

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New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis shared an update on wide receiver Michael Thomas during an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday, setting the first real timetable we’ve seen for the former All-Pro’s return from season-ending surgery last year.

“I think (Thomas) is coming along, and I think he would tell you that things are going well, and we’re excited and optimistic about where he’s going to be when we begin training camp,” Loomis told hosts Bill Polian and Solomon Wilcots.

Loomis acknowledged the frustrations with a series of lower-leg injuries for Thomas, saying that he “has missed the better part of the last two years, and we’re counting on him to get healthy and to get back to his form.”

These extended absences have worn fans’ patience thin, and Thomas missing more time during organized team activities and minicamp practices is not going to met with much positivity. But it’s part of the process in getting him back to full strength. If him not being available for May and June means that Thomas will be full-go by September and October, it will have been worth it.

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Mickey Loomis says everything’s going as planned while Michael Thomas recovers from injury

Mickey Loomis says everything’s going as planned while Michael Thomas recovers from injury, adds WR ‘absolutely’ can return to form:

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What’s the latest on Michael Thomas? The New Orleans Saints’ former superstar wide receiver has lost years of the prime of his career to injuries, gutting through a complicated ankle issue that slowed him down in 2020 and sidelined him for the entire 2021 season before a broken bone in his other foot cut his 2022 campaign short.

But the Saints are optimistic that Thomas can return to form. General manager Mickey Loomis said as much Monday morning at the Saints Hall of Fame golf tournament, “Absolutely he can be. Just need to get him healthy, and he’s worked so hard at that over the last two or three years. The results haven’t been as good as we have all hoped, but it’s not because of a lack of effort or desire by him, that’s for sure.”

So when will he be back on the field? The Saints are taking it easy with several players managing health issues this offseason, including rookie running back Kendre Miller (coming off a knee injury) and tight end Foster Moreau (recovering from cancer treatment), and they aren’t going to rush Thomas into action before he’s physically ready.

Loomis echoed comments that head coach Dennis Allen made last week in the wake of news that Thomas recently had some surgical “hardware” removed from his foot, saying that the Saints expect Thomas to be ready to go for training camp in July: “Yeah I think everything’s (going) according to plan so far, and I feel very positive about it.”

At least they have a better backup plan this year in case Thomas does miss more time. They signed a veteran contested-catch receiver who’s used to working with Derek Carr in Bryan Edwards. They drafted a highly-regarded rookie who played a similar role in A.T. Perry. Another first-year pro, undrafted free agent Shaquan Davis, also has impressive potential. Signing former Pittsburgh Steelers standout James Washington would add another layer of depth, but we’ll have to wait and see whether a deal materializes.

Hopefully Thomas will continue to progress as expected and return to full participation in training camp and beyond. But if there’s another hurdle or challenge ahead, the Saints won’t be caught unprepared.

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