Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has a clean bill of health as he attempts once again to return to his All-Pro form.
He has appeared in just 10 games since winning the Associated Press 2019 Offensive Player of the Year award, but Thomas is now six practices into camp coming off a season-ending foot injury and is getting stronger with each day.
"Once I passed my physical and they gave me the green light and they checked all the details they needed to check, I trusted it," Thomas said Tuesday about taking full-speed reps, per the Associated Press. "I have real strong faith in God, and I know it was a process to get here. And I didn't cheat that process. So, eventually if you don't cheat that process and you stick to the grind, you'll reap the rewards and the benefits.
"I'm just fine-tuning everything -- missed a decent amount of time. So, for me to say, like, 'Yeah I'm 100 (percent).' No. But I'm moving in that direction every day."
It's still unclear what a 30-year-old Thomas will look like at full strength.
From his 2016 rookie year to 2019, Thomas reached three Pro Bowls and was twice named an All-Pro thanks to his 470 receptions, 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns. He increased his career high in receptions and yards during each of his first four seasons.
At the height of his powers in 2019, he led the league with 1,725 receiving yards while collecting 149 catches, an NFL single-season record.
But a collection of foot and ankle injuries have rendered him mostly absent since, and Thomas is well aware public opinion of his place in the WR ranks has not gotten fonder.
"It grows every day, I feel like, but that's a good thing about this game," he said regarding the burgeoning chip on his shoulder. "You get to go out there and you get to attack someone."
He'll wage whatever attack he has left in him, be it a return to dominance or simply providing sure hands and veteran savvy, with a mostly unfamiliar cast.
He played just three games with wideout Chris Olave last year, and rising weapon Rashid Shaheed didn't crack the lineup until Thomas had already logged his final snap of 2022. The trio is expected to serve as new quarterback Derek Carr's top receiving options.
Thomas maintaining his health while jelling with Carr and New Orleans' other weapons will be key to reenergizing an offense that finished last year with its worst rank in scoring (22nd) since 2005. Should that happen -- and especially if Thomas comes anything close to his 2019 self -- the NFC South is there for the taking after all four clubs finished last year below .500.
There will be some that don't foresee Thomas returning to individual success or helping the Saints to a division title, but that's of little concern to the former Pro Bowler. In fact, it fuels him.
About having doubters, Thomas said: "I like it."