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Full-go Michael Thomas highlights opening of New Orleans Saints training camp

'That's what Mike said he was going to do when he left out of here in the spring'


A full-go Michael Thomas.

A rejuvenated Jimmy Graham.

A newly-signed Trai Turner to compete and push on the offensive line.

Coach Dennis Allen will enter his second season as head coach of the New Orleans Saints with a robust roster entering Wednesday, the first day of Saints training camp presented by Rouses Markets, with Graham and Turner signing with the Saints on Tuesday.

"I'm excited about the team, I'm excited about where we're at as a team," Allen said Tuesday morning. "We're finishing up with the physicals right now, so I can't give you a full list of who will or won't participate. But my anticipation is that we'll have everybody available to participate in some form or fashion for practice (Wednesday). I think that's a good start."

Better for the Saints, the participants will include Thomas, the record-setting receiver and former NFL Offensive Player of the Year who only has played 10 games since 2019 due to ankle and to injuries.

"Our expectation is that Mike is going to be a full participant," Allen said. "He came in last Thursday, did his physical, went through the conditioning test, looked great, moved around awesome, he's in good shape.

"So our expectation is that Mike will be a full participant and I think, if I'm not mistaken, that's what Mike said he was going to do when he left out of here in the spring. And generally when Mike sets his mind to something, he gets it done."

New Orleans Saints players arrive at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center for the team's 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Monday, July 24, 2023.

Thomas played in three games last season before succumbing to injury, after missing all of 2021 and nine games of 2020 due to his ankle injury. Each required surgery, but Thomas was a limited participant during minicamp, when he caught passes from quarterback Derek Carr, and stated that he would be ready for the opening of training camp.

His presence is one that would significantly impact the Saints' offense, which struggled the last two seasons in his absence, finishing 18th (333.8 yards per game) in total offense in 2022 and 28th (304.5 yards per game) in '21, and 22nd in points per game (19.4) in '21 and 19th (21.4 per game) last season.

Allen and Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said they were pleased with the roster makeup entering training camp.

"I think we've added some pieces, through free agency, through the draft, even as late as today – we've added some pieces that give us some pretty good depth on our roster," Allen said. "That's important. This league's a league of attrition. Everybody deals with injuries, and it's the teams that are able to withstand that and survive those injury issues. And the key is not just the number of injuries, but who are those players that are getting injured. That makes a difference, too."

"I feel good about our roster, I think all of us do" Loomis said. "And yet as you've seen today, we're still tinkering, we're still looking. We're still looking and we'll continue to look to see where we can add, what are out deficiencies. That's going to be dictated by what happens over the next few weeks in practice and how guys perform."

THE UNKNOWN: Allen and Loomis said they currently are unsure what, if any, penalties the NFL might levy against running back Alvin Kamara, who settled his civil case against him stemming from a fight in Las Vegas in 2022.

"I'm not going to get into what could or could not happen," Allen said. "We're expecting to have Alvin this year, Alvin is going to be a big part of what we do. We're going to practice that way. We haven't heard anything from the league at all, so it's really kind of something that's out of our control. We're really not going to focus on that, we're just going to focus on getting better as a football team and Alvin is going to be a big part of that."

Kamara enters his seventh NFL season tied for the all-time franchise lead with 72 touchdowns.

SIZZLING: Allen said accommodations will be made for the record-breaking heat, but that the Saints will have practices outside.

"There may be some times that we have to start inside and go out, I'm sure we'll utilizing the cooling trailer pretty significantly," Allen said. "It's a factor, we've got to take that into consideration. There's an element to being here in New Orleans, having to deal with the heat, having to deal with the humidity, having to mentally push yourself through that and eliminate that distraction and focus on the task at hand. That's part of developing a physically and mentally tough football team and so, there's part of that that I like. But then there's also the health risk involved in that, so it's a delicate balance that you're trying to deal with."

PENNING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: Left tackle Trevor Penning, the Saints' second pick in the first round last season, will again make his bid to start after missing 11 games last season. He played in the final six games but suffered a Lisfranc injury in his lone start, the regular-season finale.

"He's worked his tail off this offseason to get himself healthy," Allen said. "There's certainly a significant portion of time lost and we don't get a chance to get those reps back, but I like where he's at right now. The thing that he needs is he needs to get out there on the practice field and get reps. That'll be a process that we'll go through throughout training camp."

FIERCE BATTLE: The battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Marshon Lattimore figures to be fierce between Paulson Adebo and Alontae Taylor. Allen looks forward to seeing it play out.

"I think somebody's got to step up and win the job," he said. "I'm excited about watching those guys compete. I think we've got several guys that have the ability to be starting corners in the National Football League."

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