The New Orleans Saints are optimistic about the availability of star wide receiver Michael Thomas for training camp.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported there's a belief he will be "cleared at some point early in camp."
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLTotalAccess?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLTotalAccess</a>: There is optimism surrounding the health of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saints?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saints</a> offensive starters QB Jameis Winston and WR Michael Thomas as they face an important camp under new coach Dennis Allen. <a href="https://t.co/lY5o8jToiN">pic.twitter.com/lY5o8jToiN</a>
Thomas was limited to seven games in 2020 because of an ankle injury. Problems with the ankle persisted and kept him out for the entire 2021 season.
Thomas set the NFL's single-season record for receptions (149) and led the league in receiving yards (1,725) in 2019. As one would expect, his absence had a significant impact on the passing game over the last two years.
That was especially true in 2021, with Drew Brees retired and Jameis Winston missing 10 games because of a torn ACL. New Orleans averaged the fewest passing yards (187.4) in the NFL.
Thomas alone wouldn't have made the Saints an elite passing outfit, but he certainly would've made life easier for Winston and the team's backup quarterbacks.
Fortunately for Saints fans, Rapoport's report also painted a positive picture of the 29-year-old's relationship with the team.
Last August, NOLA.com's Jeff Duncan reported that Thomas didn't return calls from the Saints for three months after they had decided that March on a recovery plan for his ailing ankle. They were then left to scramble when it became clear he required surgery.
Following Duncan's report, Thomas posted a cryptic message on social media:
Upon taking over as head coach, Dennis Allen flew out to California to meet with Thomas.
"He is one of our better players, and I think that relationship between him and I is important," he said, per The Athletic's Katherine Terrell. "I felt like it was a cool deal to go out and see him in California going through the rehab process and getting some time to visit him just personally and get to know him a little better."
After a difficult season for both parties, it appears Thomas and the Saints are on the same page again.