Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) for team practice Saturday

Michael Thomas hasn’t played in the NFL since January 2021, but reports from training camp suggest the wide receiver has completed a key step in his long return to the field.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Thomas participated in team practice at the Saints’ practice on Saturday, noting that Thomas was “all in” for training camp. It’s an encouraging development in Thomas’ storied long recovery from ankle surgery that kept him on the sidelines for more than a year.

The perimeter player initially injured his ankle in Week 1 of the 2020 season, and while he struggled in pain, he managed just 40 catches and 438 yards in just seven games.

Thomas decided to have ankle surgery in June of the following offseason to fix the problem, and his initial return timeline was about four months. But Thomas ended up not playing at all in 2021, and still isn’t 100 percent on his training schedule this offseason.

The recovery process has been slow as Thomas is not participating in organized team activities and starting training camp on a roster that is physically unable to perform, but with Thomas being cleared for individual training on Wednesday and team training on Saturday, it looks like he is finally able to recover. let him return.

That’s good news for the Saints, whose receivers are struggling without a three-time Pro bowler in 2021. New Orleans ranks last in the league in receiving yards, and no player has more than 700 yards.

Thomas recorded at least 1,100 receiving yards in his first four seasons and led the Saints in receiving yards in all four years, including the 2019 campaign, where he led the NFL in receiving yards with 149 season record.

If his workouts continue to move in the right direction throughout the preseason and he can play at his previous level this year, it will help the Saints offense a lot.

New Orleans also addressed last season’s receiving issues by acquiring veteran Jarvis Landry and drafting first-round pick Chris Olaf from Ohio State, so all signs point to a better offensive position to start the season than this time last year. Much better.

So, after months of questions about when Thomas will be able to make his long-awaited return, it looks like the receiver is healthy during training camp and could make his much-anticipated return in Week 1.

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