Noticeably hobbled in New Orleans’ season-opening triumph over Tampa Bay, record-setting receiver Michael Thomas was expected to be shelved “several weeks” with a sprained ankle. However, Thomas, who hasn’t missed a game due to injury since his debut season in 2016, is already on the mend, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Thomas, last year’s NFL leader in both receptions (his 149 represented a new single-season high-water mark) and receiving yards (a franchise-record 1,725), was listed as a non-participant at Thursday’s practice, but it sounds like he could return to work as early as Friday. The prolific 27-year-old, who is known to be a “quick healer,” has an extra day to recover this week with New Orleans slated to face the Raiders on Monday Night Football. That game will be held at newly-opened Allegiant Stadium on the Vegas strip.
In the event Thomas doesn’t suit up Monday night (New Orleans will release its final injury report Saturday), look for complementary receivers Emmanuel Sanders (3-15-1 on five targets in last week’s opener) and Tre’Quan Smith to take on more responsibilities in the Saints’ passing game. Tight end Jared Cook, who quietly led the team in receiving yards against the Bucs (5-80-0 on seven targets), could see an elevated role as well with versatile workhorse Alvin Kamara also a candidate for increased targets. Knowing Sean Payton’s MO, jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill will have at least some level of involvement, be it as a tight end, wildcat quarterback, slot receiver or some combination of the three.