Saints superstar fined, benched over practice scuffle: report

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By RADIO.COM

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas appeared on the verge of returning from an ankle injury on Monday night -- but apparently he was held out for disciplinary reasons.

The All-Pro wideout was ruled out on Sunday, reports said, a day prior to the Saints' exciting overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football in Week 5.

Thomas had been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 and was reportedly inching toward a return against the Bolts on MNF -- but an apparent practice altercation with a teammate over the weekend sent Thomas back to the bench.

Thomas was fined nearly $59,000 and held out after an incident with teammate CJ Gardner-Johnson, according to multiple reports.

A letter from the Saints to Thomas cited "conduct detrimental to the club" as the reason for the fine, Pro Football Talk reported.

While initial reports suggested Thomas was suspended, the Saints were clear to specify he was facing a fine rather than a suspension, so as not to provoke a grievance from the NFLPA over the potential jeopardizing of nearly $28M in future guarantees, PFT said.

Thomas obliquely addressed the episode on social media, suggesting his ankle injury was to blame for his fourth consecutive missed game.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees responded to Thomas' situation after Monday's game.

"I've spoken with Mike," Brees said. "Mike and I talk a lot, both in person and in the locker room, through text message. We're always communicating. And so, at the end of the day, Mike is a big part of this team. And he is going to be a big part of this team moving forward. We had an incident, and Sean addressed it. And many of the leaders have spoken with Mike as well. And we're going to be all good."

Saints coach Sean Payton was noncommittal when asked whether Thomas' benching would last more than one game.

With the Saints on a bye in Week 6, Thomas' next chance to take the field would be Week 7 versus the Carolina Panthers.