Saints receiver Thomas making progress in injury recovery

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

By John DeShazier

New Orleans Saints

Phoenix – Dennis Allen didn’t proffer a timeline or specific update on receiver Michael Thomas during his media availability Tuesday at the NFL Owners Meetings.

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But the New Orleans Saints coach said he sees progress from Thomas, who played three games last season before a toe injury, which required season-ending surgery, shut him down. Thomas last played a full season in 2019, when he was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year with a league-record 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns.

He’s been able to play in 10 games in the three seasons since.

“I don’t want to get into specifics on that, but yet, he’s making progress in the recovery,” Allen said. “He’s not 100 percent, and we’re going to be cautious with it and take our time. We don’t want to put him out there until he’s 100 percent.”

Thomas reworked his contract this offseason, and already has approached quarterback Derek Carr, the gem of New Orleans’ unrestricted free agent class, about working together.

“I think the acquisition of Derek was big in that thought process (of Thomas wanting to remain a Saint),” Allen said. “I don’t want to speak for Mike, but I honestly just think that Mike knows, and a lot of players know, that they work for one of the better organizations in our league and we’re going to have a chance to do some good things this year.

“I expect him to be fully healthy and ready to go. When that point is, I don’t want to get into those speculations. But we feel good about where he’s at.”

An update that Allen was a bit more specific about was left tackle Trevor Penning (Lisfranc injury right foot) and right guard Cesar Ruiz (foot). Allen said he expects both to be ready for training camp.

Regarding, Penning, he said, “The biggest key for him is being able to get healthy and stay healthy. He had two foot injuries in the same season, so there’s a little concern there. But yet, if we can keep him healthy, the sky is the limit in terms of what he can do. He’s big, he’s physical, I love his play demeanor. He’s athletic for a guy at his size, so we’re excited about the player.”

Penning will compete to start at left tackle.


Allen said the team has focused on having a good, effective backup quarterback the last couple of seasons. This year, entering training camp, it’ll be Jameis Winston, who won the starting job in training camp last year, then only was able to play three games due to several injuries.

Winston reworked his contract in order to remain with the Saints, after signing a two-year deal last year.

“I think that’s kind of been our plan the last couple of years in terms of just, making sure that we have a capable backup quarterback,” Allen said. “We’ve certainly gone through some injury issues that that position in the last few years, so having somebody that, if something happens you can put them in and you feel like you can go and win games with him.

“When we signed Derek, I wasn’t sure that that was going to be something that Jameis was going to want to do. There was communication between our side and his people, and it’s something that he was interested in and we were certainly interested in having him back.

“Once we signed Derek, I think we all knew that we were going to have to rework the (contract) for him to be a part of it, and that was something that he was open to doing and wanting to do, and we were able to get that done.”