Saints’ Thomas on IR, expected back for playoffs


METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas will miss the final three games of the regular season because of his lingering ankle injury, but the Saints expect him close to 100% for the start of the playoffs, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Thomas will be placed on injured reserve, sources told ESPN, meaning he must miss at least three games. He had been playing through the ankle injury since returning in Week 9.

Thomas’ ankle just was not getting better with practice and games, sources told ESPN. He did not practice at all this week before being ruled out for Sunday’s marquee showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The timing is unfortunate for a Saints team that just got quarterback Drew Brees back from his own four-game IR stint this week. That dynamic offensive duo has only played in two full games together this season.

The Saints (10-3) are currently slotted into the NFC’s No. 2 seed because they would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker to the Green Bay Packers (10-3).

Thomas, who was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 with a league-record 149 catches, has only played in seven games this season. He originally suffered a high ankle sprain in the final minutes of a Week 1 victory against Tampa Bay.

When he was close to returning to the lineup, Thomas was benched for one game as discipline for a practice altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Then he suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two more weeks.

Thomas has been productive since returning from the injuries, however. Over the past six games — four of them with backup QB Taysom Hill — Thomas has 37 catches for 421 yards, but no touchdowns.

“I’m proud of him because I know it’s been a grind working back,” Saints coach Sean Payton said last week. “He’s still trying to get to 100%. Obviously the injury he had was significant. But, man, he’s come up with some big plays here. And for a quarterback new in the lineup, to have that target and someone who’s gonna come down with the ball, make plays, that’s a big deal.”

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