Optimism rules with Saints as Michael Thomas continues to heal
The offseason is always a time to feel good about the team you support.
It also a time for the organization of the team you support to feel good about itself as well.
Both are true of the New Orleans Saints.
Media and fan reaction to the action taken by the organization has been positive, in general, certainly more positive than negative.
Executive Vice President and general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Dennis Allen expressed optimism about where the Saints are at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
The additions of Derek Carr and Jamaal Williams have certainly impressed oddsmakers, who now have the Saints as the favorite to win the NFC South and to post a winning record after a disappointing 7-10 season in 2022.
The adept work of Loomis and Khai Harley to restructure several contracts of players to retain those players and to get to a salary cap-friendly place has been solid.
Replacing a pair of departed defensive tackles was accomplished.
Adding depth at other key spots which could help special teams has taken place.
“I’m optimistic,” Loomis said. “We’ve got the makings of a real good team. Now, we’ve got to perform. I’m positive about our team.”
Of course, Loomis added that he was positive about last year as well prior to season ending up on the negative side of the record ledger.
Allen was equally positive.
“For the most part, we’ve handled a lot of the musts,” Allen said. “I like where we’re at.”
One of the restructuring deals was with Michael Thomas.
Clearly, the signing of Carr impressed and influenced Thomas about wanting to remain with the Saints.
Clearly, the signing of Carr gave the Saints incentive to retain Thomas after it appeared that Thomas would be gone by the end of the 2022 season.
Time heals old wounds.
The question with Thomas is will his wounds heal with time?
Time is on his side, yes it is, as the stone rolls downhill toward OTA’s, mini-camps, training camp, the preseason and the regular season.
Thomas, who is recovering from surgery again, is not at 100 percent, according to Allen. Questions remain as to when Thomas may be ready to go.
“He’s making progress in the recovery,” Allen said. “He’s not 100 percent and we’re going to be cautious with it and take our time, and we really don’t want to put him out there until he’s 100 percent.”
The skeptic in observers is that we’ve heard this before with a glass half empty feeling.
The optimist looks at it as a new year, a new outlook with a glass half full feeling.
Thomas provided optimism for everyone to start the 2022 season, catching 16 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns in three games before going down again in week three. He never saw the field again as he dislocated a toe and it did not heal as planned.
The sensitive toe and ankle issues plaguing Thomas have plagued the Saints since 2020.
He was hurt in the first game of that season and played in just seven games and was not the same player he was previously.
Thomas did not play at all in 2021 after eschewing the team’s advice about timing and surgery.
Then, he played in the three games last year.
The math is clear on the availability of Thomas.
Thomas has played in eight games while missing 40 games over that time span.
The math is clear on the ability of Thomas.
In his first four seasons in the league, Thomas set records, catching 470 passes for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Thomas led the NFL in receptions in both 2018 (125) and 2019 (149). He had a league-best 1,725 receiving yards in 2019 and led the league in average yards per game in receptions (107.8).
That is what Thomas has been and what he could be.
What will he be moving forward?
If Thomas is at 75 percent productivity of what he averaged in his first four years, the Saints will be markedly improved offensively.
Of course, if he plays back to his original form, it will be a harvest situation.
Then, there is the possibility of the injuries lingering.
Your guess is as good as mine.
The comparison of Thomas to that of Zion Williamson is a frequent topic of conversation and it is a telling one.
Both had significant foot problems. Now, Williamson deals with a lingering hamstring problem.
Both are superb, talented players.
Both are hard to even consider moving on from, based on their dynamic productivity and ability.
Both have not been available enough to make a difference.
As the Pelicans fight to try to make the postseason, the prospect of Williamson returning if they reach the postseason lingers.
As the Saints fight to return to the postseason, the prospect of Thomas returning and the Saints returning to the postseason lingers.
Perhaps both will return with a vengeance.
That is the hope.
Time waits for no one and time is running out on Williamson making any mark on the current Pelicans.
Time is on the side of Thomas with the season still a half-year away.
Staying on the bright side and hopefully the right side of the equation, here’s to the glass being half full in both instances.
- < PREV LA Tech, ULM announce home-and-home football series
- NEXT > Southeastern Athletics announces 2023 Hall of Fame Class
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…