Thomas

Michael Thomas says there's more.

Plenty more.

So on Wednesday, in the New Orleans Saints' locker room during media availability, when the receiver said, "I'm trying to top that," and he was talking about his record-setting 2019 season, it was a mouthful, as the Saints prepare for the regular-season opener against the Falcons in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday in Atlanta.

Thomas barely registers the 2020 and '21 seasons. He missed all of '21 with ankle issues that stemmed from '20, when he played in seven games with five starts, but clearly wasn't the Michael Thomas who punished defenses in his first four NFL seasons, to the tune of 470 catches for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns, culminating with an NFL-record 149 catches for a team-record 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019, when he was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

"At the end of the day, the one thing I've learned is that the game does not change," Thomas said. "There might be new players that come in, there might be new coaches, the game doesn't change.

"It's all about creating separation, getting open, making the play, competing, being physical, and those things I take pride in. Those things I work on every day, so I like my chances when the ball comes or when my number is called, making that play and taking advantage of every opportunity. Just being locked in, I feel like the sky is the limit.

"I feel like, I don't want to give anything away, I just want to keep doing what I'm doing. I believe in my talent, I just believe in myself. I believe in my game, I believe in my craft. I feel like the good thing about this game is you can put it on display on Sunday, and I can't wait to put it on display."

Thomas was limited in practice Wednesday as he recovers from a hamstring injury, but during the portion of practice that the media was able to see, looked full speed in those drills.

"He looked good," Coach Dennis Allen said. "We're working him back in, we'll see where we're at. But another positive step trying to get him back out here."

"We'll find out (about Sunday's availability)," Thomas said, smiling. "I mean, I feel like, that's the goal. I feel great, I think I had a great weekday. Coach preaches about winning the week day by day, so I think I can think about Wednesday and look forward to coming out here thinking of Thursday."

Teammates, meanwhile, can begin to think about what it means to have Thomas in the huddle for the first time since Jan. 17, 2021, when New Orleans lost to Tampa Bay in their NFC Divisional playoff game.

"We're excited to have him back," said quarterback Jameis Winston, who, as a first-year starter with the Saints last season, never had an opportunity to throw to Thomas before suffering his own season-ending injury in Game 7, against Tampa Bay. "He's been on a long journey, but one thing I've always admired about Mike is the competitor and the resilience that he possesses. I think that's what makes him as elite as he is, and he is among the elite."

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