Receiver Michael Thomas is yet to participate in New Orleans Saints OTA. But he is expected to return from his ankle injury in time for training camp, according to coach Dennis Allen, and is present and rehabilitating with the team during the volunteer training period.
Meanwhile, midfielder James Winston is already back on the training pitch just seven months after being torn in the AFC Champions League, with both attacking pillars working their way back from major injuries.
Thomas, 29, missed the entire 2021 season with an ankle injury after delaying his multiple ligament surgery until June – then suffered a relapse in November that required a follow-up procedure. The 2019 NFL Outstanding Player of the Year has not been in good health since he initially sustained an ankle injury in the first week of the 2020 season and missed a total of nine games that season.
“I think he’s doing really well in his rehab. He’s not ready yet. But he’s here, he’s doing rehab, he’s getting better. And we’re definitely keen to get him out here,” Allen said. “I know he’s working on getting himself back in. We feel good about where he is now.”
When asked if Thomas would be ready for training camp, Allen said, “That’s definitely our plan.”
“If I had a crystal ball and could tell you all these things, I would probably make a lot of money and do something different,” Allen said. “But, yeah, we hope he’s ready to go to training camp. That’s what we pay for.”
Thomas’ presence at Ota was notable because there was a lack of communication between the player and team last spring – and then friction between the two sides after he chose to wait until June for surgery.
But that tension appears to have been defused early last season. Allen has spoken positively of Thomas’ recovery and position throughout this season, saying that bringing him back alongside rookie receiver Chris Olaf is like adding two first-round options in the position.
When Saints drafted Olaf, Thomas immediately invited his former Ohio teammate to stay with him and train with him for two weeks at their joint base in Southern California.
The Saints also signed free agent future Jarvis Landry after the draft while they continue to renew the NFL’s passing offense at the bottom of last season.
– New Orleans Saints 26 May 2022
As for Winston, Allen cautioned, “We still have ways to go to get him ready.” But he said, “I think it looks good… We love the progress it’s making, we love what it’s up to. We hope it continues.”
Since OTAs are unlined, contactless practices, it is difficult to assess the extent of Winston’s limitations. But Allen stressed that the Saints would be smart with this 28-year-old’s schedule.
“Look, the way he works and how hard he works, it doesn’t surprise me,” Allen said of what Winston was already doing on the court. “I think we have to continue to be smart with that, which I think we are. We will keep pushing for it to improve, but nonetheless we try to be smart about it.”