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Michael Thomas still ‘a couple weeks away’ from playing in 2021

We won’t know anything definitive until the first New Orleans Saints injury report drops later this week, but we shouldn’t expect Michael Thomas to be ready to play against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25. Or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on Oct. 31.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport threw some cold water on the expected talent injection for the Saints offense coming out of their bye week on Monday.

“Star receiver for the Saints Michael Thomas has been battling that lower leg injury, kind of ankle injury ever since his surgery in the spring,” Rapoport said during an appearance on NFL Live. “I’m told he’s still expected to be a couple weeks away. So that really quick infusion of offense for the New Orleans Saints, doesn’t sound like it’s coming this week or next week.”

This lines up with earlier reporting from NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill, who suggested Thomas could need more time to ramp up his workload after not playing football for nine months. Thomas has been working out on his own but has yet to join his teammates for group drills or contact at any level. That’s going to require an adjustment.

And it’s the expectation for most players who start the year on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. They’re forced to be inactive for six weeks before opening a 21-day window in which to practice with the team. Once that window closes they must either be activated to the 53-man roster or sidelined for a continued recovery on injured reserve.

It’s frustrating, but the Saints have gotten this far without Thomas. Their offense is ranked tenth in points per game (25.4) and third down conversion rate (43.1%), with a league-best red zone scoring rate of 92.9%. They can soldier on until November if that’s what it takes.

Tre’Quan Smith should return from injured reserve and offer a boost to the receiving corps by drawing attention away from backups Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Kenny Stills, even if he isn’t the No. 1 weapon Thomas has proven to be. At this point, maybe the best thing fans can do is keep expectations muted and celebrate Thomas’ return once it happens.


Surveying the Saints schedule coming out of their bye week

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