Drew Brees and the Saints fell short of a storybook ending with a loss this weekend in the NFC Divisional Round. The 41-year-old quarterback showed the wear of a difficult season and threw three interceptions as New Orleans fell 30-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Notably MIA during Sunday's Saints loss was star wide receiver Michael Thomas. Brees targeted the talented 27-year-old four times in the game, but connected for zero completions. Without Thomas at his best, the Saints offense faltered.
On Tuesday, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter revealed why the two-time All Pro may have labored this weekend. Apparently, Thomas played banged-up for most of the season.
Michael Thomas often wouldn’t practice all week, yet would still play in games, at much less than 100%, and with pain medication. The coaches told him even as injured as he was, they were much better off with him than without him. But now will need surgery. https://t.co/9YdSgVVbRW
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 19, 2021
">According to Schefter, Thomas plans to have surgeries on a torn deltoid and injured ligaments in his ankle this offseason. The 27-year-old missed practice often throughout the 2020 season and would play on the weekends, but often times at "much less than 100 percent." However, Thomas knew that this year would give him one last ride with Brees, so he pushed through the pain and played in nine of the Saints 18 games.
Thomas seemingly confirmed Schefter's report
Shoutout to the pain gave me understanding.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) January 19, 2021
">by quoting rapper Nipsey Hussle in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
"Shoutout to the pain gave me understanding," the 27-year-old said.
After consecutive first team All-Pro nods in 2018 and 2019, Thomas's numbers took a significant dive this season. The New Orleans wideout missed much of the Saints early regular season after playing in the opener and also sat from Week 15 to Week 17 in order to rest for the playoffs. Thomas returned for both postseason games, but to no avail. He ended the year with 511 receiving yards and just one score.
Thomas will have to work alongside a new quarterback in 2021, as Brees likely heads into retirement. If the 27-year-old wideout can return to his All-Pro level, the Saints offense should remain one of the best in the league.