Michael Thomas, Chris Olave are stars, but Saints need other wide receivers to earn spots

Michael Thomas, Chris Olave are stars, but Saints need other wide receivers to earn spots
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The return of wide receiver Michael Thomas to the practice field was an unexpected highlight of the New Orleans Saints’ offseason workouts.

Minicamp was mandatory, of course, but Thomas showing up to the voluntary organized team activities was really what sparked the surprise. He hadn’t been seen with his teammates since Week 3 of the 2022 season because of a foot injury suffered during the Saints’ loss to the Carolina Panthers that ultimately required toe surgery and landed him on injured reserve.

Thomas said he’ll be full-go for New Orleans training camp, which has its first practice Wednesday.

If that is indeed the case, the Saints will soon know whether their 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year is truly back healthy. He has only played in 10 games since that record-breaking season due to injuries. It looked like Thomas was primed for a comeback last season — hauling in three touchdowns and 171 yards receiving on 16 catches in three games before getting sidelined — but obviously fell short.

While Thomas was out last season, two rookies made their names known and enter training camp with hopes of an even stronger sophomore campaign.

Chris Olave was one of the Saints’ first-round draft picks and really lived up to his potential. He became just the third rookie in New Orleans history to break 1,000 yards receiving, joining Thomas (1,137 yards in 2016) and Marques Colston (1,038 yards in 2006). Olave finished with 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns.

Rashid Shaheed was an undrafted rookie in 2022 and really solidified a spot on the roster when his first two offensive touches both turned into touchdowns. First, he scored on a 44-yard run in the Saints’ Week 6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Then, he did so on a 53-yard reception during New Orleans’ Week 7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Shaheed played in every game from then on, totaling 28 receptions for 488 yards and two touchdowns.

Those three are bound to be the starters, if available. Should something happen, there are a few options behind them on the depth chart.

There’s the usual fill-in option of Tre’Quan Smith. He has been in New Orleans since 2018 and caught 19 passes for 278 yards receiving and a touchdown last year.

Bryan Edwards was signed as a free agent in March, and he has history with the Saints’ new quarterback, Derek Carr. The two played together with the Las Vegas Raiders from 2020-21, when Edwards had the most productive years of his young career. He had three touchdowns and 571 yards on 34 receptions in 2021. He had just three catches for 15 yards last season with the Atlanta Falcons.

When it comes to the rookies, sixth-round draft pick A.T. Perry and undrafted free agent Shaq Davis both were placed on the non-football injury list last week but are eligible to come off the list immediately once the team clears them to practice.

Thomas and Olave may be the stars of this position group, but the Saints will need someone else to step up for depth. They have multiple options who could fit that bill in 2023.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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