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The New Orleans Saints are preparing for the return of an elite receiver.
Michael Thomas took part in 11-on-11 drills for the first time in nearly two years on Saturday.
Thomas has been out since the end of the 2020 season with an ankle injury, and he suffered a setback in the 2021 season.
Head coach Dennis Allen said Thomas was gaining confidence in his ankle strength.
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“Honestly, he’s been on the ground a lot of times,” Allen said, via ESPN.
“It’s part of the process of building that confidence. I think he’s in a good frame of mind right now. I think he’s looking good physically. I’m delighted to know where he is .”
Thomas led the NFL in catches in 2018 and 2019, setting the NFL record for most single-season receptions (149) in 2019. He also led the NFL with 1,729 receiving yards that season and was named Offensive Player of the Year.
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In each of his four NFL seasons, Thomas has totaled at least 90 catches and 1,100 yards, with both numbers increasing each year. He averaged 118 catches, 1,378 yards and eight touchdowns per season.
He’s only played seven games in 2020, and he last played Jan. 17, 2021 in the NFC Divisional Round against eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Thomas did not participate in the OTAs in June but has been training, albeit limited, since day one of training camp.
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The Saints open the season in Atlanta against the Falcons, and Thomas will need to develop a relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston. Thomas last played when Drew Brees was still QB for the Saints.