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Michael Thomas is running routes as he continues working his way back

Chris Simms examines how Jameis Winston's game developed under Sean Payton and what he expects from the veteran quarterback under new Saints head coach Dennis Allen.

It’s been a long time since the Saints have seen Michael Thomas on the practice field. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver has not played a game since 2020.

But Thomas is getting closer to a return.

He posted video of himself running routes as he works his way back from ankle surgery, which kept him out all of last season. Thomas wasn’t ready to participate in team drills in the offseason program either.

Saints coach Dennis Allen said a couple of weeks ago that Thomas was “making significant progress.”

Thomas had one of the greatest seasons for a receiver in NFL history in 2019 with 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. But he played only seven games in 2020, catching 40 passes for 438 yards and no touchdowns, and then made a late decision last summer to undergo ankle surgery. A setback in Thomas’ rehab required another surgery and kept him on injured reserve all season.

Thomas spent much of the offseason rehabbing in Southern California.

The Saints are stacked at the position with Jarvis Landry, first-round choice Chris Olave, Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harty also in the receivers room. But if Thomas can return to form, Jameis Winston will benefit by having one of the league’s best at his disposal.