“I’m at a loss for words… It’s a blessing to be out there with the guys.”
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) July 27, 2022
There isn’t a bigger news story surrounding the start of New Orleans Saints training camp than the return of Michael Thomas, but no one appreciated the gravity of the situation more than the man himself.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Thomas said after his first day of practice in more than a year, musing on his first experience with a major injury and the frustrating process that followed. “It’s a blessing to be out there with the guys.”
Thomas has been activated from the PUP list, which means he’s passed his physical but may not be back to full health just yet. And that was reflected in his workload on Wednesday; despite moving well without a limp or hitch in his step, Thomas was held out of full team drills after fully participating in the activities leading up to them. So the Saints will remain cautious and avoid throwing him into anything before his body can handle it. That’s smart.
Still, you can’t help but be encouraged by this progress. This time last year Thomas was away from the team altogether, dodging their phone calls and tweeting recklessly. Things are in a whole other universe now. Thomas is in lockstep with the Saints’ doctors and coaches, putting in work on the practice field and praising his quarterback and new teammates.
“Jameis is the ultimate competitor,” Thomas said during his post-practice press conference. “He always brings that energy and passion, and we feed off that.” Thomas has caught just one pass from Winston during a game, so it’s great to see him so active in camp right away. The more time those two can put in together this summer, the better off their connection will be in the fall.
When asked about rookie wideout Chris Olave, Thomas was all smiles — he spoke about his yearslong relationship with his fellow former Buckeye, who sought him out as a mentor coming out of Ohio State. The pair trained together before the 2022 NFL draft and met up again over the summer after Olave landed with New Orleans. As Thomas explained, “It’s an honor. I know the culture he came from, I know the environment he came from. I know the guys that coached him.”
So things are trending up with Thomas. Of course we aren’t out of the woods yet; he isn’t participating in team drills, and obviously we need to see how his body holds up in full-contact practices and games later on down the road. It’s going to be a process. But you couldn’t ask for a much better start. Let’s see what’s next.