After not practicing all week, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was ruled out for the Week 15 showdown against the Kansas Chief Chiefs. Saturday afternoon, his 2020 regular season was officially brought to an end as the Saints placed last year’s Offensive Player of the Year on injured reserve.
Saints’ WR Michael Thomas is being placed on injured reserve due to the ankle injury that has lingered since Week One.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2020
Saints now will be without Thomas for the rest of the regular season, but they expect him close to 100 percent for the start of the postseason.
After compiling 149 catches in 2019, Michael Thomas’ 2020 has been limited. He missed six games (Weeks 2-8, including the bye week), with a combination of an ankle injury, a hamstring injury, and a disciplinary measure following an altercation in practice with defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson. He found his way back to the field in Week 9 and has appeared in six games since. However, after re-aggravating his ankle injury that plagued him early on in the season, the former Buckeye will miss the final three games before the playoffs.
The expectation is that he will be back for the postseason. This year’s injured reserve rules allow you to return after three games.
Thomas and starting quarterback Drew Brees have only played a total of two games and two quarters together thanks to those injuries as well as Brees’ own. Thomas had been a go-to for Taysom Hill, totaling 30 catches for 343 yards (40 for 438 on the season). Now, with Brees returning, the two will continue to miss each other until Wildcard weekend at the earliest, the Divisional round if the Saints should regain the number one NFC seed.
This means that the number one receiver will finish the 2020 season with no touchdowns and will mark his first NFL season without reaching 1,000 yards. The latter was very likely with only three games remaining, anyway.
Thomas has been adamant about getting back out on the field and contributing for his team so this is no easy situation for the team or player. Even with getting Brees back, this is a big blow for New Orleans as they look to close out the season strong and earn guaranteed home-field advantage and the conference’s only first-round bye. However, the decision makes sense. Especially with the injury not progressing. No matter what, the Saints will be in the playoffs and they’ll need their full host of talent in order to be at their best for a potential Super Bowl run.
When Michael Thomas missed time earlier on in the season, the offense funneled through star running back Alvin Kamara. Now set to host both the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings over the next seven days before closing out the season traveling to Carolina, the Saints will likely turn to Kamara again. He, Brees, Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, and their other offensive weapons now must adjust without their star wideout as they race for the top seed in the NFC.
Updated 12/19 3:45 PM CT
In addition to Michael Thomas, wide receiver and All-Pro return specialist Deonte Harris has also been added to injured reserve.
Tons of transactions today for the Saints.— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) December 19, 2020
The big ones:
Michael Thomas, Deonte Harris to injured reserve
Drew Brees activated from injured reserve
The leaves Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith as the active roster wide receivers available with Juwan Johnson and Tommylee Lewis being signed from the practice squad. Former Texas receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey is also being elevated for this game under the NFL’s COVID gameday elevation rules.
New Orleans now has four receivers on their injured reserve list in Michael Thomas, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, and Bennie Fowler. The good news: Drew Brees has officially been activated.
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