The New Orleans Saints have plenty of experience playing without Michael Thomas, and they’ll need to draw on that again with the wide receiver scheduled for toe surgery that is expected to wipe out another season.
Thomas, who hasn’t played since September 25, was placed on injured reserve Thursday because his dislocated toe did not respond well to rehab, Saints coach Dennis Allen said.
"I’m not going to get into any time frames right now. I don’t know," Allen said. "He’s going to go on IR. I don’t anticipate that he’ll be able to return this year."
After missing just one game in his first four NFL seasons, Thomas was limited to seven games in 2020 and did not play at all in 2021 due to an ankle injury and complications related to surgery in summer 2021. He will have missed most of the past three seasons since his five-year, $96million extension went into effect in 2020.
"I think Mike worked his tail off and did everything he possibly could to try to rehab it," Allen said. "This is just something that happens from time to time. It didn’t respond the way we wanted it to, so we felt like surgery was the best option to go ahead and repair it and try to get him healthy."
Thomas had at least 92 receptions in each of his first four seasons and was an All-Pro in 2019, when he set an NFL record with 149 catches and finished that season with 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns.
His 470 receptions from 2016 to 2019 led the league, with DeAndre Hopkins in second with 393.
Running back Alvin Kamara strongly defended Thomas.
"I just saw a couple comments in the media about him," he said. "Basically like, ‘You can't’ trust him, he’s not being honest about his injury, why is he waiting until now to be ruled out?'
"I’m like, man, nobody knows what we go through in here. The masses get to see Sunday. It’s a lot of s--- we’ve got to go through.
"A player like that, that’s fighting to get back, not only for his team, but for the fans and for his city… for people to be talking s---, it’s like, ah, it hurts my soul to see that."