Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that New Orleans Saints All-Pro WR Michael Thomas will likely miss the start of the 2021 regular season because of ankle surgery he had in June.
Thomas had ligaments in his ankle surgically repaired last month. The recommended timetable for his recovery is up to four months, according to Rapoport.
The 28-year-old Thomas suffered an ankle injury during the 2020 season-opening win, 34-23, over Tampa Bay. He’d miss the next six games and struggled the remainder of the year.
Thomas returned during a 38-3 Week 9 victory at Tampa Bay. Despite being hobbled most of the season, he caught 37 passes for 421 yards over the next six contests. Complications with the ankle would sideline him for the final three regular-season games.
Returning for his team's 21-9 NFC Wildcard win over Chicago, Thomas hauled in 5 receptions for 73 yards and his only touchdown of the year.
A shadow of his usually dominant self, Thomas was bottled up and caught no passes during the Saints' 30-20 NFC Divisional Round loss to the Buccaneers.
One of the most dominant offensive players in the game, Thomas caught 32 touchdowns and averaged 118 receptions for 1,378 yards over his first four seasons. He led the NFL with a league record 149 receptions and a career-high 1,725 yards in 2019.
Without Thomas last season, the New Orleans passing attack slipped to 19th in the league. Now, with either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill replacing the retired Drew Brees, the new-look offense will begin the year without the league's best wideout.
Expect New Orleans to explore the free-agent market for a veteran receiver. Inconsistent fourth-year WR Tre'Quan Smith is the team’s most experienced receiver on the roster.
The Saints also expect big development from second-year WR Marquez Callaway and All-Pro kick returner Deonte Harris. The team also added Jalen McCleskey and drafted Kawaan Baker with a seventh-round selection.
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