It’s unclear if Thomas will be able to play Sunday at the Detroit Lions. But the Saints obviously targeted this week as a realistic possibility because they never placed him on injured reserve (which would have required him to miss at least three games).
The Saints (1-2) could certainly use the offensive boost. In Thomas’ absence, they have lost two consecutive games for the first time in three years. And they rank last in the NFL with 283 yards by wide receivers this season, with quarterback Drew Brees being scrutinized for not getting the ball downfield enough.
“Obviously, his presence is a difference, because you know at any moment he can make big plays,” Brees said after Wednesday’s practice. “And he’s obviously a featured guy. So it’s good to have him back.”
“He looked good out there, so hopefully he feels ready enough to play,” running back Alvin Kamara said. “I know he’s been itching to play. If it was up to him, he would’ve tried to play the last two weeks. But obviously, when you’re dealing with injury, you gotta do what you gotta do to get healthy so you don’t set yourself back.”
Another of New Orleans’ top pass-catchers, tight end Jared Cook, is also dealing with an injury. Cook missed practice Wednesday after leaving Sunday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers early with a groin injury.
Thomas was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year last season after breaking the NFL record with 149 receptions. He had three catches for 17 yards in a Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being injured in the final minutes of the game when running back Latavius Murray rolled into his leg.
Thomas, 27, has missed only one other game because of injury in his five-year career — a foot injury during his rookie year in 2016.