Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has been absent pretty much all of the 2021 season due to an ankle injury he suffered in the offseason.
Thomas started his NFL career with four consecutive 1,000 plus receiving yard seasons. He also broke the NFL record for most catches in a season with 149 back in 2019. He was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. Then, in his fifth season in 2020, injuries caused him to only play in seven games. And this season? Thomas has recorded zero completions or attempts this season.
So, what exactly has happened to the Saints wide receiver? Here’s everything you need to know about Thomas’s injury timeline and when he’s set to return to the field.
What is Michael Thomas’s injury?
Thomas underwent ankle surgery in the offseason due to an injury he suffered during the 2020 season. He has not played a game this season because of a setback with the surgery. As of Nov. 3, Thomas was officially designated out for the remainder of the season.
Here’s Thomas’s announcement he made on Twitter.
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Michael Thomas’s injury history
Back in September 2020, Thomas suffered an ankle sprain during the Saints season opening game. He then missed four games, which was the most he had ever missed in a row. Previously, he had only missed one game in four seasons.
Reminder: Michael Thomas originally suffered his ankle injury in Week 1 of last season when the #Saints had the game in the bag with 2:19 left in the 4th quarter.
Everything has gone downhill since.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 3, 2021
But, before Thomas could return from his ankle injury, he suffered a hamstring injury during a practice which put him out for an additional two games. He was able to play in six more games during the regular season before his ankle caused him to sit out the rest of the regular season.
Thomas decided to delay his ankle surgery until after the playoffs so he could help his quarterback Drew Brees advance during his final season as quarterback. The Saints lost to the Buccaneers in the divisional round, though.
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Thomas ended up not having his ankle surgery until June, which did not help in terms of him starting this season. The surgery was needed to work on his torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his ankle. Saints coach Sean Payton wasn’t too happy about Thomas’s delay in surgery.
“Obviously with hindsight we would’ve preferred that surgery to be earlier in February or March. But it wasn’t. You know, it is what it is. And hopefully he’s had a good result so far, and hopefully we’ll get him back sooner rather than later,” Payton said, via ESPN in late July.
Sean Payton on Michael Thomas: “The setback was more to do with the procedure he had.”
Payton said he didn’t think that there was anything Thomas could do and is surgically related.
— John Hendrix (@JohnJHendrix) November 3, 2021
And, as we know now, the Saints will be getting Thomas back much later than expected.
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Saints WR depth chart
With Thomas out this season, the Saints have relied on their other wide receivers, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith. However, running back Alvin Kamara has also helped by making 32 catches for 310 yards through eight games he’s played in.
Harris leads the Saints’ receiving yards total with 427. Callaway follows close behind with 396, and Smith has 236.
The Saints do not rank high on the list of total receiving yards this season so far. With the most receiving yards on the Saints, Harris only ranks at No. 61 in the NFL this season. Rams’ wide receiver Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 1,237 yards, for comparison.
Cooper Kupp has 92 catches with 6 games left.
He has to average more than 9.5 catches per game the rest of the way to break Michael Thomas’ record and even has the advantage of an extra game this year.
Makes you appreciate how nuts 2019 was for @Cantguardmike
— John Butler (@Saintjohnbutler) November 29, 2021