Few things have been as unpredictable as Michael Thomas' game-day availability during the 2020 NFL season, but the star New Orleans Saints wide receiver took a step toward returning to action on Thursday, returning to practice for the first time in more than a week. Listed with both ankle and hamstring injuries, the latter of which sidelined him for Week 7, Thomas still figures to be questionable for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears but now at least has a chance to suit up for the first time since Week 1.
Fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) will not play when the Saints visit the Bears Sunday, but Thomas is the big name to watch this weekend, per The Athletic's Katherine Terrell, who said Thursday the No. 1 receiver's status is "still up in the air, but it's at least a good sign after the Saints were out three WRs on Wednesday." Thomas notably was a limited participant in Saints practice last Wednesday, before sitting out both Thursday and Friday and then missing Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers, his fifth straight absence this year.
The three-time Pro Bowler, who's in just the second year of a $100 million extension, has not played since the Saints' season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which he left early due to a high-ankle sprain. Thomas was initially set to return in Week 5 but was abruptly suspended an additional game after a reported fight with a teammate at practice, then developed a separate ankle issue ahead of Week 7's Panthers game.
If Thomas returns against the Bears, he'd assuredly be an instant favorite target for quarterback Drew Brees, who was forced to rely heavily on reserves Deonte Harris and Tre'Quan Smith in the team's last outing.