Saints' Michael Thomas says he'll be ready Day 1 of camp

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas isn't 100% yet after recovering from a toe injury that sidelined him for most of the 2022 season, but he already knows when his return date will be.

Thomas was seen at practice Tuesday for the first time since injuring his toe in Week 3. He said he expects to be fully ready to go when the Saints open training camp in July.

"We're going for training camp. We're going to be ready for training camp, first Day 1, out there with the team, ready to go full speed, just like the old days and what everyone's used to," Thomas said.

It has been a long eight months for Thomas, who had surgery on his toe in the offseason and reworked his contract in March, accepting a revised one-year, $10 million incentive-based deal to return to the team in 2023. Thomas said there was never a doubt that he would be back in New Orleans, even though injuries limited him to just 10 games in the past three seasons.

Thomas said all of the talk around the contract was just "fluff" to him and a matter of getting things done.

"I feel like the organization knows my value. I feel like we're on the same page," Thomas said. "We've got a very good relationship no matter what the narrative may be. I feel like we've always had, between me and anyone in the front office, we've had great communication. I don't feel like I ever left, or I had to sign a contract. It was just the fact that maybe I was injured, and it was just offseason talk, but besides that I knew I was always going to be playing here."

Thomas spent Tuesday's OTA session working mostly off to the side, simulating routes and working on getting out of his breaks when the other receivers were working on individual drills. The team split up twice so that all three quarterbacks could work on throwing passes to just Thomas while the rest of the receivers worked on other drills.

"I was going over certain plays, just new plays for me," explained new Saints quarterback Derek Carr. "And just getting used to throwing all those reps. So, he was spotting up those routes for me, just where he would be. ... It's funny to say, but not all quarterbacks throw the same type of ball. Some come out a little different ... so it was just so he could get used to catching those things from all different kind of route angles."

Thomas' participation level was probably similar to what next week's mandatory minicamp will be, according to Saints coach Dennis Allen.

"I think it probably still remains to be seen. If he does anything, I wouldn't expect it to be a lot," Allen said. "Our focus is getting him ready for training camp."

Tuesday was the second day that Thomas worked with Carr. Both players have spent a lot of time on the phone this offseason getting to know each other before and after Carr agreed to join the team.

"It's just cool to have him in the building," Carr said. "I know everyone was excited to see him. Everybody loves him here. They love his work ethic ... his competitiveness, his leadership, the way he plays, the way he practices, he prepares. From just on the outside looking in, he's such a worker, that's probably why. Sometimes injuries happen when you play that hard and work that hard. And you don't ever ask a guy like that to tone down. ... You've got to keep going as long as you can.

"And so, just being around him, like I said, you talk to him on the phone, you feel like you can win a football game with just you two out there, and being around him now, he just brings that energy about him."