Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs after a pass reception against Minnesota Vikings strong safety Andrew Sendejo (34) during the first quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints WR Thomas out for disciplinary reasons

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will be without star wide receiver Michael Thomas when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, but it isn’t only a gimpy ankle keeping him out.

ESPN reported Sunday afternoon that Thomas had “an altercation” with a teammate at practice and will be benched for disciplinary reasons.

He had been listed as questionable with a left ankle injury and was limited during practice in the week.

Thomas sustained a left ankle injury in the Saints’ season-opening victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 13.

The 27-year-old Thomas led the NFL in both receptions (single-season-record 149 catches) and receiving yards (1,725) in 2019.

A two-time All-Pro selection and the league’s 2019 Offensive Player of the Year, Thomas racked up 1,000 or more receiving yards in the four seasons since being drafted in the second round in 2016 out of Ohio State.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; ESPN Sportcenter announcer/analyst Steve Levy during Monday Night Football between the Arizona Cardinals game against the New York Jets at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Levy, Griese, Riddick to call ‘MNF’ games

ESPN veteran Steve Levy will call the play-by-play on “Monday Night Football” games this fall, the network announced.

He will be joined in the booth by former NFL players Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, who will serve as analysts. Lisa Salters will return for her ninth season as sideline reporter on the telecast, and John Parry will serve as the officiating analyst for a second season.

They are replacing the duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger MacFarland.

The new team is scheduled to debut on the opening Monday of the season, Sept. 14, when the Denver Broncos host the Tennessee Titans at 10:10 p.m. ET.

That will be the second of two games to be televised on ESPN that evening. The network’s No. 1 college team, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, will call the Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants at 7:15 p.m.

“Steve, Brian and Louis are trusted voices of the NFL whose knowledge and love of football connects with fans,” said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president of content in a network statement. “We are thrilled that they will join Lisa Salters to make up our new Monday Night Football team and share their passion and insight with football fans in what promises to be a great broadcast each week.”

Levy, 55, is in his 28th year with ESPN. He has been calling college football games on ESPN and ABC with Griese since 2016. He also was the play-by-play announcer for several years on the networks’ NHL coverage, broadcasting games that included the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Griese’s NFL career began in 1998 when the Denver Broncos selected the Michigan quarterback in the third round of the NFL draft. In 11 seasons in the league, the now 45-year-old appeared in 93 games (83 starts) with the Broncos, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins.

He joined ESPN in 2009.

Riddick, a former defensive back who later worked in a pair of NFL front offices, played in 94 games over six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders. He has been with ESPN since 2013 and has been open in discussing his desire to fill the “MNF” job.

“Officially official,” he tweeted Monday morning. “Hard work pays off.”

ESPN turned to internal candidates after Peyton Manning and Drew Brees rejected overtures from the network. An attempt to work out a deal with NBC Sports to acquire the services of play-by-play legend Al Michaels also failed.

Brees eventually signed with NBC and will move into an analyst role after he retires as the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.

–Field Level Media