NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans
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Maybe Michael Thomas is just fine with the Saints, after all. Less than a week after implying New Orleans was trying to "damage (his) reputation" and sparking speculation of a potential trade, the star wide receiver was seen on the field with his team Saturday ahead of the Saints' preseason road opener against the Ravens. This comes in the wake of a Yahoo! Sports report indicating Thomas and coach Sean Payton recently had positive discussions. Not only that, but CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora spoke directly with Payton on Friday and reports the team expects Thomas will return from injury "sooner rather than later."

Payton "expressed strong confidence in (Thomas) for (the) 2021 season," La Canfora added Saturday. "Obviously he is still recovering from surgery now, but (it) sounds like they can salvage this relationship."

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Payton, of course, had previously gone on record lamenting that Thomas' ankle surgery, conducted in June and set to keep the wide receiver out well into the 2021 season, didn't occur earlier in the offseason. Subsequent reports indicated Thomas had ignored phone calls from team executives, including medical personnel, for months following the 2020 campaign.

Now, all signs point to Thomas, who did not dress for Saturday's preseason opener and is set to miss the entire exhibition schedule, sticking with the Saints this year. The three-time Pro Bowler is under contract with New Orleans through 2024 thanks to a five-year, $96.3 million extension he signed in 2019. When healthy, the former second-round pick has been among the NFL's most productive pass catchers, logging three straight 100-catch, 1,200-yard seasons from 2017-2019. He started just five games in 2020 while battling a lingering ankle injury.