After a phenomenal rookie season in 2016, the idea of a “sophomore slump” doesn’t even ring a bell for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas.
In fact, Thomas is actually fourth in the league in catches with 59 and eighth in the league in receiving yards with 662. The Saints’ 47-10 rout over the Buffalo Bills actually saw Thomas have his first 100-yard game of the season. Thomas now has five or more catches in all but one game this season and has logged over 60 receiving yards in seven of his last nine games.
Thomas is an integral member of one of the greatest NFL brotherhoods in Ohio State University. Back in the early 2000s, a large majority of players hailed from the University of Miami, or “The U.” With iconic players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis (the list obviously goes on and on), there was absolutely no doubt that “The U” produced NFL-caliber players.
Fifteen years later, The Ohio State University (as players would say on Sunday Night Football) is producing that same level of high-caliber players. Players like Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and Malcolm Jenkins have made big plays time and time again for their respective teams, and Thomas, along with fellow Buckeyes Vonn Bell and Marshon Lattimore, are doing the exact same thing for the Saints.
In the case of Thomas, he is continuing to step up in his role as a starting wide receiver. He and Brandin Cooks were one of the league’s best wide receiver tandems last season, but a lot of the attention was focused on Cooks. This was especially evident during the Saints’ season opener against the Oakland Raiders, where Cooks was able to beat his coverage and sped past defenders with blazing speed for a 98-yard touchdown. But as Cooks continued to have success throughout the course of that season, Thomas wasn’t going to go away quietly.
Thomas’ breakout game happened just six weeks later in a road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he caught 10 passes for 130 yards. With under three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Drew Brees threw a short comeback to Thomas, who gained 21 yards to the Chiefs’ eight-yard line. While Thomas was injured after that play, it set up the Saints with first-and-goal, and Brees hit Brandon Coleman in the endzone to pull the Saints within three.
The reason why Thomas’ rookie season was so phenomenal was because he established himself as a catch machine. Thomas caught all of his targets in three games last season and has never missed no more than five targets in his career so far. He has one of the best catch percentages in the NFL, and even when he faces double- and triple-coverage, he still finds ways to hold on to the ball. This is definitely a legitimate reason as to why his Twitter handle is called “Cantguardmike.”
As the Saints continue to soar this season, Thomas continues to soar as well. With Thomas healthier and much more-revitalized, he has an even greater opportunity to continue being a threat for secondaries as the season starts to wind down.
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