Michael Thomas' ankle injury left the Saints with a large void in the lineup entering training camp.
Initial reports suggest Thomas is due for a mid-season return. But as general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton shared on Wednesday, they believe the star receiver could've been looking at a different road to recovery had a few things been managed differently.
Minus a one-game conduct-related suspension, Thomas was limited to nine total appearances in 2020 due to lingering ankle issues. Loomis shed light on what transpired with Thomas' situation following the season.
"He was treated conservatively during the season, played in the last two postseason games, still had a few issues after the season," Loomis told reporters. "It was decided that he was going to treat that conservatively and I think we all had an expectation that would heal and he'd be fine coming into camp this year. But we get to the minicamp and, obviously, it wasn't quite right and so we had to make a call and collectively made the call to have the surgery in June.
"Obviously, with hindsight, we would've preferred that surgery to be earlier in February or March, but it wasn't. It is what it is and hopefully he's had a good result so far and hopefully we'll get him back sooner rather than later."
Payton shared some of Loomis' sentiments, stating that he believes Thomas' surgery shouldn't have been delayed.
"It appears we're going to have to spend some time without him," he said. "It's disappointing, but we'll work through it with the other players that are here. The surgery took place and, obviously, we would've liked that to have happened earlier than later and, quite honestly, it should've."
When asked if there was a lack of communication between all parties involving the plan, Payton simply replied, "Nope, I'm gonna leave it at that."
The decision to have Thomas utilize conservative treatment rather than opt for surgery sooner has left an already sparse receiving corps without a true No.1 target.
The recent signing of Chris Hogan adds a needed veteran punch but that likely won't be enough. If Wednesday is any indication, though, the team doesn't seem to be in a rush to make any more additions.
"We like our group of receivers more than some of the media guys do," said Loomis regarding WR depth.
Payton later echoed that, saying, "There's other pressing positions ahead of that position."