For Thomas, the news stings more than usual. After an exciting start that included three touchdown catches, Thomas is facing a familiar conclusion with another recovery and rehabilitation process ahead of him.
Saints teammate Alvin Kamara shares Thomas' pain.
"It just sucks to have a player of that caliber, an elite player that obviously works hard, and is passionate about the game, that just kinda got hit with some unlucky things," Kamara said Friday, via ESPN's Katherine Terrell.
The downside of Thomas' placement on IR -- beyond the fact he's again out of commission -- is how it affects public perception of him. Three years ago, Thomas was the unquestioned top receiver in the NFL. He'd set the single-season receptions record (149), and he'd recorded at least 1,100 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons.
Then, the wheels fell off, almost literally. Thomas has dealt with multiple lower-leg issues since 2019, costing him 26 games between 2020 and 2021. By the time the 2022 regular season comes to a close, that total will reach 40.
"Nobody's in here like 'Let me get injured and not play and just get paid,'" Kamara said. "We get paid to play obviously and we want to be available but when you can't do it, there's certain things you've got to be smart about. He's not going to ruin the rest of his career for right now."
When the injury bug bit Thomas a second time last season, New Orleans wised up, spending a first-round pick on fellow Ohio State product Chris Olave, and signing veteran wideout Jarvis Landry. The Saints are in a better place at the position now than they were a year ago, but Thomas' departure still stings.
"You know Mike, out of anybody in this locker room, he's one of them dudes who's fighting to be on the field," Kamara said. "He even wanted to play still knowing that he had to do that and fix his foot and be out for the season."
Thomas attempted to aggressively rehabilitate his ankle injury in order to avoid surgery before the 2021 season, and that plan ended up backfiring. He's since learned from that experience, and despite his desire to be on the field with his teammates, he's making the wise decision with his toe injury.
The start of the 2023 season will undoubtedly be circled on his calendar.