Saints expect WR Thomas to be ready for camp

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Recipient Michael Thomas is not yet participating in the New Orleans Saints OTAs. But he is expected to return from his ankle injury in time for training camp, according to coach Dennis Allen, and he is present and retraining with the team during the volunteer training period.

Meanwhile, quarterback Jameis Winston is already back on the training ground just seven months after tearing his ACL as both offensive pillars work their way back from major injuries.

Thomas, 29, missed the entire 2021 season with the ankle injury after delaying his first surgery to repair more ligaments until June – and then suffered a setback in November that required a follow-up procedure. The NFL’s 2019 Offensive Player of the Year has not been entirely healthy since he initially suffered the ankle injury in Week 1 of the 2020 season and missed a total of nine games that season.

“I think he’s doing well in his rehab. He’s not ready yet. But he’s here, he’s rehab, he’s getting better. And we’m definitely eager to get him out of here,” Allen said. “I know he’s working on his tail to get back. And we’re fine with where he is right 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 more money and do something else,” Allen said. “But, yes, our hope is that he will be ready to go to training camp. So that’s what we’re pushing for.”

Thomas’ presence at OTAs is remarkable because there was a lack of communication between player and team last spring – and then friction between the two sides after he chose to wait until June to have surgery.

But that tension seemed to have subsided at the beginning of last season. And Allen has spoken positively about Thomas’ recovery and attitude during this low season, saying getting him back with rookie receiver Chris Olave is like adding two first-round draft picks to the position.

When the Saints appointed Olave, Thomas immediately invited the former prominent colleague from Ohio State to come and live with him and train with him for a few weeks at their common home base in Southern California.

The Saints also signed free agent receiver Jarvis Landry after the draft, as they continue to renew the NFL’s bottom-ranked passing offense since last season.

As for Winston, Allen warned that “We still have a way to go to get him ready.” But he said: “I think he has looked good … We like the progress he is making, we like where he is. And that will hopefully continue.”

Since OTAs are non-padded, non-contact practices, it is difficult to assess how limited Winston still is. But Allen stressed that the Saints will be smart with the 28-year-old’s schedule.

“Look, with the way he works and how hard he works, it does not surprise me,” Allen said of what Winston has already done on the field. “I think we need to keep being smart about it, which I think we are. We want to keep pushing to get him better, but still try to be smart about it.”

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