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The Fallout Of Michael Thomas’ Injury Setback

  • The Draft Network
  • November 3, 2021
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An NFL bombshell dropped on Wednesday afternoon when multiple reports confirmed that New Orleans Saints All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas has suffered a setback while rehabbing an unfortunate and recurring ankle injury, and will now miss the remainder of the 2021 campaign. Thomas began the season on the team’s Physically Unable to Perform List and was originally expected to rejoin the team within a six-to-eight week timeline. That will no longer be the case and it represents a catastrophic blow for a Saints team that appears to be playoff-bound.

Head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael were certainly counting on Thomas' return in order to help pick up a passing offense that has struggled mightily throughout the early portion of 2021. New Orleans has encountered great difficulties when attempting to move the ball through the air this season and currently own the league's 31st-ranked passing offense (180.9 passing yards per contest). Thomas was expected to return to New Orleans' offense sooner rather than later, providing a much-needed bolt of energy into a wide receiver room that otherwise lacks high-end talent.

Thomas' unfortunate medical diagnosis isn't the only challenge Payton and his staff will be forced to face in their efforts to revive their passing offense. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Don't look now, but the Saints must now usher their way forward without their top quarterback and pass-catcher.

These recent developments will place an unwavering amount of stress on the shoulders of four-time Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara, who has totaled an astounding 736 yards from scrimmage through the first seven contests. In the passing game, Kamara is averaging north of five targets per game, a metric that may rise in Winston's absence.

Just who will be throwing the ball to Kamara and Co. in the coming weeks remains a mystery. Although backup quarterback Trevor Siemian performed admirably in relief of Winston on Sunday, it is of no guarantee that the former seventh-round selection out of Northwestern steps into the starting role. That honor may fall at the feet of dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill, who compiled an impressive 3-1 record as the team’s starter in 2020. Hill has been dealing with a concussion in recent weeks, but Payon recently proclaimed him to be “on schedule,” which could set him up to return against the Atlanta Falcons this coming Sunday.

There are several moving pieces as the Saints must navigate through the flurry of difficult news they’ve received in recent days. Thomas' season-ending diagnosis is almost certain to hold back a passing offense that has found life to be incredibly difficult in 2021.

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