Jul 28, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) making more progress

New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas continued his recovery from a left ankle injury by competing in 11-on-11 drills Saturday for the first time since the 2020 season.

Thomas missed the entire 2021 season after surgery on the ankle. He initially hurt it during the 2020 season opener and was limited to seven games.

The three-time Pro Bowler is ramping up his conditioning and looking to improve the strength in the ankle.

Saints coach Dennis Allen can see the progress.

“Honestly there was a couple of times he ended up on the ground,” Allen told reporters on Saturday. “That’s all part of the process in building that confidence. I think he’s in a good mindset right now, I think he looks good physically. I’m excited about where he’s at.”

Thomas was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after setting the league’s single-season record with 149 receptions. He also had 1,725 yards and nine touchdown catches that season.

Overall, Thomas has 510 receptions for 5,950 yards and 32 touchdowns in 70 games (62 starts) over five seasons.

Three-time Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu (personal reasons) also appeared in 11-on-11 drills for the first time during training camp.

“That was cool to see,” Allen said of Mathieu. “I was excited about getting him out here. We’ve kind of held the reins back on him, our decision more so that it’s been his. It’s part of the ramp-up process, so we’ll continue to ramp him up.”

Also, linebacker Kiko Alonso was a no-show at Saturday’s practice with multiple reports indicating he has decided to retire.

Alonso, who will turn 32 on Aug. 14, officially signed with the Saints on Friday after missing the previous two seasons due to injuries.

In 86 career games (67 starts) with the Buffalo Bills (2013), Philadelphia Eagles (2015), Miami Dolphins (2016-18) and New Orleans, Alonso had 588 tackles, 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three sacks.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints middle linebackers Alex Anzalone (47) and Kiko Alonso (54) walk off the field after their game against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Saints bring back LB Kiko Alonso on 1-year deal

Inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, who missed the past two NFL seasons due to injury, will attempt a comeback with the New Orleans Saints.

Alonso signed a one-year deal with the Saints, where he spent the 2019 season, multiple reports said Thursday.

Alonso tore his right ACL on Jan. 6, 2020, in a NFC wild-card game between the Saints and Minnesota Vikings. It was the third torn ACL of his playing career.

New Orleans traded Alonso to the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, but he never suited up for them as he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Alonso, who will turn 32 on Aug. 14, saw action in 13 games for the Saints (four starts) in 2019, recording 31 tackles and one pass breakup.

He finished runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year back in 2013 with the Buffalo Bills, but missed the 2014 campaign with an ACL tear in his left knee and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in a deal that brought LeSean McCoy to Buffalo.

In 86 career games (67 starts) with Buffalo, Philadelphia, the Miami Dolphins (2016-18) and New Orleans, Alonso has 588 tackles, 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three sacks.

–Field Level Media

Wait, what?: McCoy/Alonso trade

Is there a more exciting offseason transaction than a star player for star player, straight-up trade with your team involved? When the words hit my screen, every word of the headline on ESPN raised my heart rate just a little bit.

How? Who? What? Is this real life?
This is a paradox. Not because it doesn’t make sense for either team. It’s actually perfect for both of them. It’s the kind of trade you’d talk through with football cards when you were 10, but rarely see executed. When was the last time you saw all three of the following in one NFL trade?:
-Good player-for-good player on opposite sides of the ball
-No draft picks involved
-Both teams improve as a result
It doesn’t happen. Ever. The stars so rarely align with situations equal enough to get a deal like this done without additional compensation, even if it’s an extra 7th thrown in.
Rex Ryan wants to run the ball. A lot. C.J. Spiller never developed into the 20 carry back that merits a first round pick. Fred Jackson is in perennial, “He’s probably got another year in him” mode. Kiko Alonso had a sensational rookie year, but Buffalo didn’t exactly miss him in 2014 when he missed the entire season with a torn ACL. It was the most ferocious defense in years. And it may get even better under Ryan.
McCoy just wasn’t working in Philly. Part of it might have been Chip Kelly wanting to spread it around conflicting with McCoy’s preseason quest for 2000 yards. Part of it might have been the beleaguered line throughout 2014. Who knows. And the Eagles’ defense, which saw great improvement in 2014, can take a step towards the elite with the addition of Alonso, whose versatile skillset shores up a suspect linebacking corps. Not to mention the cap implication for the Eagles, now on the hook for $1 million with Kiko as opposed to $11.95 million for McCoy.
Now if we can only talk them into a Foles for EJ Manuel trade…
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