Saints’ Thomas out for season after setback; Hill practices

FILE - New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, center, sits on the bench with teammates during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Baltimore. Thomas says he won't be able to play this season because of complications related to his recovery from offseason ankle surgery. Saints coach Sean Payton said Thomas will need an additional procedure, but he also credited Thomas' work ethic during his rehabilitation and said the setback had nothing to do with the receiver's approach to his recovery. Thomas posted comments about his setback on social media Wednesday, Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File) (Gail Burton, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

METAIRIE, La. – The New Orleans Saints won't get record-setting wide receiver Michael Thomas back at all this season, another blow to an offense that just lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a major knee injury.

Complications related to ankle surgery last summer will keep Thomas out for the year, the receiver said Wednesday in a lengthy social media post.

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Saints coach Sean Payton said Thomas will need an additional procedure, but he also said the setback had nothing to do with the receiver's approach to his recovery and credited Thomas' work ethic.

“He’s having complications with the current surgery that was done,” Payton said. “I know he’s working his tail off to get back out there.”

Thomas wrote that “the team and I have worked diligently, day and night to rehab and get me back on the field.

“Unfortunately, there has been another small setback which we will have to address,” the statement continued. "To my displeasure, I will not be able to make it back in time for this season but will do everything in my power to get back to the player I have always been.”

Two seasons ago, Thomas set an NFL single-season record with 149 catches. He finished that season with 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns receiving.

“It's really disappointing,” said fellow Saints receiver Tre'Quan Smith. “I believe we all are hurt by it because we wanted to see him play. He's a big part of this offense. ... We definitely miss him."

Thomas first hurt his ankle late in Week 1 of the 2020 season when he was rolled up on from behind by then-Saints running back Latavius Murray, who was tackled into Thomas while the receiver was blocking.

Thomas tried to play through the injury but missed nine games in 2020.

He initially hoped to recover without surgery until it became apparent last summer that he would not. That's when he had a procedure that prompted the club to place him on its physically unable to perform list to start the season. He was eligible to return to the active roster on Week 7, but he missed two more games before the need for an additional procedure became evident.

Meanwhile, Payton declined to say Wednesday which healthy Saints QB would take the bulk of snaps Sunday when New Orleans (5-2) hosts Atlanta (3-4) with a chance to move into a tie with Tampa Bay (6-2) atop the NFC South.

And the coach does have a choice.

Taysom Hill, who missed two games with a concussion that occurred in Washington on Oct. 10, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.

Hill went 3-1 as a starter last season while Drew Brees was sidelined by rib and lung injuries, and he also served as a change-of-pace substitution even while Brees was healthy. Hill completed 88 of 121 passes for 921 yards and four TDs against two interceptions in 2020. He also rushed for 457 yards and eight TDs last season.

But the Saints also could stick with Trevor Siemian, who served as Winston's backup last Sunday against Tampa Bay and entered the game when it was tied at 7 early in the second quarter.

Siemian completed 16 for 29 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown without a turnover, helping the Saints emerge with a 36-27 victory.

“You can definitely tell he's experienced,” Smith said of Siemian, who started for Denver in 2016 and 2017 but hadn't taken a regular-season snap since early in the 2019 season. “Actually he came in the game and shocked me. He looked very comfortable in the pocket. He stood in the pocket, he took some hits and still delivered the ball. ... He definitely looked like he was ready to play — like, no hiccups.”

Left guard Alex Hurst said Siemian “took command immediately and I don't think he left any room for doubt — there was no doubt in that huddle."

NOTES: Safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee), Defensive end Carl Granderson (shoulder), and receiver Ty Montgomery (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. ... Running back Dwayne Washington (neck), defensive end Payton Turner (calf), left tackle Terron Armstead (groin) were listed as limited in practice.


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