New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas broke the NFL record for catches in a single season last year while also leading the league with 1,725 yards. His performance led to him being named the AP Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
So how could the Saints top receiver improve in 2020?
“Well he better break some more records,” Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson said with a laugh. “That's what he better be doing.”
After being rewarded with a new contract prior to last season, Thomas went on to have the best season of his career, and Saints coaches aren’t expecting any dip in his production. The former second-round pick is most certainly working to make sure he posts another record breaking season. Although Thomas wouldn’t give up too many details about his offseason training methods, he said “everyone will be able to tell” he's been working.
New Orleans coaches however are privy to Thomas' preparation and like what they've seen.
"I'm in on it, me and RC (Ronald Curry) are in on everything," Johnson said. "He'll call us, he is like our little third son. He keeps calling us all the time, bugging us about a lot of stuff.
"But we know he's going to be big. We never worry about Mike. He's always going to be in great condition. He is going to catch the ball and make plays. He loves football and he's a good person."
Thomas has given the Saints' staff plenty of reason to have that confidence. He's improved his production in each of his four seasons en route to setting the NFL record for both receptions (470) and yards (5,512) by a player through his first four seasons.
His coaches say he's also grown as a leader.
"He does some things I still don't like, but that's o.k.," Johnson said. "But this guy is a tremendous leader. He's always out there, always first in line. He's going to show everybody he's the best and I love coaching him. He's just a great guy to coach."
Johnson has coached some of the game's all-time best receivers and said the Thomas is "one of the top guys."
"He's as big as Andre Johnson and Yatil Green, probably two of the biggest guys, he has hands like Reggie Wayne, he can separate like Santana Moss. He's right there with all of them," Johnson said. "He can make back-shoulder catches like (Marques) Colston, he's not as fast as Devery (Henderson) or (Robert) Meachem so I'm not going to give him that much, but I mean he's up there with the top.
"I've never seen a big guy as courageous as he is and can separate the way that he does. Colston was courageous also, but this guy separates in small areas like no one else I have ever seen do it."
Johnson also said Thomas has scored points with him off the field as well.
"He just bought my wife a great birthday present so I've got to say Mike is my favorite right now, today," he said with a laugh.
Still Thomas is not a perfect player and Johnson jokingly admitted there a few things he'd like to see the former Ohio State Buckeye improve on.
"I wish he'd block a little bit better," he said with a laugh. "We can put that in there, let's throw that in (laughter)...He can also improve on catching every ball, instead of dropping like one or two."