Update: Tuesday, September 15
According to ESPN Saints Reporter Mike Triplett, things aren’t set in stone at this time in terms of a timetable for Michael Thomas and his return. IR will be the biggest indicator to watch. Saints practice on Thursday, a good benchmark for that information.
So far sources I’ve checked with say it’s too early for a definitive timetable on Michael Thomas. But obvious concern he could be sidelined Monday at the very least. Will be a good sign if the Saints don’t place him on IR since players only have to be on IR for 3 weeks this year. https://t.co/MYXsjP2saw— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) September 15, 2020
Big news for the New Orleans Saints who will, reportedly, have to make due without their star wide receiver for the next “several weeks”. The news broke on Tuesday that Thomas’ ankle injury was worst than expected. The previously used phrase “high ankle injury’ is no more. Now, the injury has been determined to be a high ankle sprain - a much more serious diagnosis.
#Saints star WR Michael Thomas' high-ankle injury is worse than originally believed, and he’s now expected to miss several weeks, sources tell me and @RapSheet.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 15, 2020
Thomas is as tough as they come and surely will try to defy that timeline. But it'll be a battle.
Obviously, this is less than ideal for New Orleans who started out hot with a big victory to open up the season. Now, they’ll travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders in their new home. Doing so without Michael Thomas, who racked up an NFL record 149 catches in 2019 isn’t the best situation for an offense that didn’t really get rolling to open up the year.
However, the Saints look to be in much better shape here in 2020. Had this happened in 2019, we may be humming a different and more concerned tune. The Saints signed veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason. Sanders could be a WR1 on multiple teams around the NFL. He scored a touchdown in Sundays game as well and the comfort and communication between he and Brees will only improve with this as the catalyst. Behind Sanders though there are large question marks at the wide receiver position.
The Saints luckily don’t have to rely on just their wideouts in the passing game, though. With Jared Cook and Drew Brees seemingly maintaining the connection they had at the end of last season with a five catch 80 yard Sunday to open the year, and a healthy Alvin Kamara, New Orleans is still in good position to produce. Not to mention x-factors like Taysom Hill and Ty Montgomery who only lined up out wide twice for the Saints on Sunday against the Bucs, but has a ton of experience at wideout.
Not to mention Drew Brees is known for making the Saints offense work with anyone at the wide receiver position. However, that reputation has been tainted a bit over the last couple of season.
Behind Sanders at wide receiver, the Saints have Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, and Marquez Callaway on the active roster with Bennie Fowler and Lil’Jordan Humphrey on the practice squad. Fowler was called up last week, wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again but earlier in the process.
With the new COVID rules in affect, the Saints do have the option to place Michael Thomas on a short-term injured reserve. That would make him unavailable for three games, allowing him to come back far more quickly than the traditional IR timeline. Doing that would open up a roster spot for the Saints to pursue a veteran elsewhere or promote early from the practice squad.
Given this year’s rules, Injured Reserve is possible for Michael Thomas. It might protect him from fighting his way onto the field. Because he’ll be trying... https://t.co/Ufy0tYLQMT— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 15, 2020
With trade rumors floating about for other veteran wide receivers around the NFL, there were some rumors floating around after the initial roster was set that New Orleans would be interested in adding a veteran wideout. I’m not sure that they become buyers because of this, but something to keep an eye out for just in case.
It doesn’t feel like the Saints, who have a ton of talent on offense should be counted out by any means over these next few weeks. This is a team that won five in a row without Drew Brees and won a couple of games without Jared Cook and Alvin Kamra in 2019. Yes, the Saints will be without their top option, but they have many others around Drew Brees to help shoulder the load.
In fact, the Saints just beat the Buccaneers while Thomas had only three catches for 17 yards. However, his presence on the field creates a lot of work for opposing defenses. Missing him will not go unnoticed.
For more on Michael Thomas’ injury, keep it locked here as we’ll update as more information becomes available.
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