Michael Thomas and Marcus Davenport won’t be present to start training camp for the New Orleans Saints. The next question entering most Saints fans’ collective minds is likely “is it too soon to freak out”? The answer is both yes and no.
Both players are recovering from known ailments coming into camp, so neither development is completely unexpected.
Thomas hasn’t played for the better part of two full seasons due to a high ankle sprain that ultimately resulted in nerve damage and multiple surgeries. Davenport suffered from surgery complications this offseason that resulted in an infection and having a portion of his finger amputated. Both issues appear to be mostly behind the players, but it is concerning they have yet to resolve fully.
In Thomas’s case, Saints head coach Dennis Allen mentioned that the hope and plan was to have him back in time for the start of training camp. Now that he’s on the “PUP” list, that projection appears to have been optimistic. Still, there’s no signs Thomas has suffered a setback. Recent videos posted by the wide receiver show him running routes at full speed and making cuts.
This is a clear sign that he’s making progress and appears to be close. But each day that passes without him is another lost opportunity for he and Jameis Winston to build chemistry and help fix an offense that was dead last in the NFL in passing in 2021.
Davenport’s struggles have been more recent so it’s no shock he’s not yet fully cleared. Still, when you consider the long laundry list of physical problems Davenport has had in his four year NFL career so far, it’s just further evidence that he can’t seem to find the field with any consistency. When you consider how good the Saints defense was with him last year, and how big of a drop off there was without him, this is really significant.
The development isn’t good news for Davenport, either, who is trying to shed a reputation of often being unavailable in what is an important contract season for him.
Ultimately this news is something to monitor. It could be nothing and it could be very serious. Players that start on the PUP are eligible to return to practice at any time. For these players critical to the success of the team, the sooner they can return the better. For their sake and the sake of the Saints.
But the longer this extends in the preseason the more these absences could derail the goals and objectives for the Saints in 2022. If this team wants to win, there’s no way around the reality that they need Thomas and Davenport playing at a high level.
Andrew Juge is the co-host of “The Saints Happy Hour Podcast.”