The New Orleans Saints were dealt a blow just before the start of training camp as lead wide receiver Michael Thomas underwent surgery on his ankle, which will force him to start the season on the sidelines. According to a recent report, he might be there for a while.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport shared on Monday that Thomas is expected to begin the 2021 campaign on the physically unable to perform list which will keep him out at least six weeks. That would set the Saints top receiver up for a Week 7 return against the Seattle Seahawks.
Thomas’ surgery took place in June and calls for a four-month recovery, so a return in Week 7 fits the anticipated timeline. Provided that everything goes according to plan, the 28-year-old should return for the Saints sixth regular season game, right after a Week 6 bye.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 26, 2021
Last week, Rapoport provided additional details on Thomas’ surgery which took place to repair torn ligaments in his ankle. The Saints wideout suffered an injury in that ankle all the way back in Week 1 of the 2020 regular season and never quite looked the same after missing significant time.
“The plan was for him to have a minor ankle cleanup after the end of the season,” Rapoport reported last week on The Pat McAfee Show. “What I found out last night was that in June he had a major ankle surgery. It was to repair torn ligaments in his ankle – about a four-month recovery. So what you’re looking at is missing the first several weeks of the season – maybe five, six or seven – if everything goes well.”
With Thomas expected to be out for most of the first half of the season, the Saints will need to rely on a trio of Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris to lead the way for whoever ends up under center in New Orleans. All three wide receivers have upside but will struggle to replace the output that the team’s led wideout has provided over the last few years.
According to Rapoport, the Saints also plan to pursue a free agent to bring into the fold. Former NFL wide receiver turned professional lacrosse player Chris Hogan worked out for the team on Monday.