Saints’ Michael Thomas Has A Chip On His Shoulder That’s On Steroids

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Michael Thomas has a problem with his shoulder that surgery cannot fix.

There is a chip on the New Orleans Saints wide receiver’s shoulder that has gotten so big, it may need its own contract.

Surgeries and/or rehabilitation have finally repaired his ankle, foot and toe injuries that caused him to miss most of the last three seasons. He played in just three games last season, missed all of 2021 and half of 2020. Thomas is nearing 100 percent and has been practicing at near full speed since the Saints began training camp last week.

The talented wide receiver has not been this healthy since before the high ankle sprain in 2020 when his problems started.

Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas poses for a photo with fans after his team beat Philadelphia in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at the Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

And for the first time since Drew Brees’ last season in 2020, the Saints’ quarterback position may not be a weakness with free agent signee Derek Carr coming over from the Las Vegas Raiders. So, Thomas appears to be on the verge of returning to his 2016-19 form when he was one of the best wide receivers in the game.

Thomas set the NFL record with 149 catches in 2019 for 1,725 yards and became the first receiver named the offensive player of the year by the Associated Press since Jerry Rice in 1993. He also holds NFL records for most receptions by a player through his first two seasons (196), four seasons (470) and five seasons (510).

But that chip on his shoulder is heavy.

“Oh man, the chip is very big,” Thomas told reporters Tuesday after practice. “It’s very big. It grows every day I feel like.”

Thomas Has His Doubters

With each new doubter, that chip grows. And Michael Thomas’ doubters have increased steadily along with his increasing number of missed games – 40 of 52 from 2020-22. The Saints organization could be considered a bit of a doubter as well. Thomas will play this season on a one-year contract.

“I kind of just fuel off the doubt,” Thomas said. “People might call it crazy. Some people say if you don’t have any haters, you don’t pop. I really like using it as fuel. I think doubters and stuff is good for the game.”

Saints’ Thomas Motivated By Adversity

It has definitely been good for Thomas’ game ever since he was red-shirted going into his sophomore season at Ohio State in 2013 after catching just three passes as a freshman.

“People usually don’t red-shirt their second year,” he said. “So that put a chip on my shoulder, or made the chip on my shoulder bigger.”

So that chip has been growing for at least 10 years!

Many Saints fans grew tired of Thomas in recent years, particularly after he criticized the Saints’ medical team.

Having Haters Is A Good Thing

“If you doubt me, first off, you’re probably not in my shoes,” he said. “I’m just going to go harder and prove you wrong. I like it. Doubt me. You can doubt me, and then I’ll get you. And we’ll see what happens. That might be a psychological problem for you, because I just proved you wrong.”

Thomas can prove many wrong by just starting the Saints’ season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 10 and staying healthy most of the season.

“I know it was a process to get here,” he said. “I’m just fine tuning everything. Missed a decent amount of time, so for me to say, ‘Yeah, I’m 100 percent here,’ no. But I’m moving in that direction every day.”

Saints coach Dennis Allen, meanwhile, is making sure Thomas does not try to do too much in his quest to return to his previous form.

“There’s a number of guys we have some planned limited practice days, some planned extra days off,” he said. “We’ve got a plan for Mike. He’s doing a good job going through that plan.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.


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  1. There were mistakes made with regard to Michael Thomas’ injuries by him and the team, but he never did not want to play. He is way too competitive to even consider that. Coincidence this started after big contract.

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