Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The New Orleans Saints placed star wide receiver Michael Thomas on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday, meaning the Pro Bowler will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.
Players who are put on the PUP list can't begin practicing until the first six weeks of the regular season have passed, but Thomas is required to miss just five games since the Saints have their bye in Week 6.
The 28-year-old Thomas has been sidelined since he had ankle surgery in June. Saints head coach Sean Payton recently said the wideout was "ahead of schedule" in his recovery, creating optimism within the organization that Thomas will return as soon as he is eligible.
Thomas missed nine total games last season after he originally suffered the ankle injury in the closing minutes of the Saints' Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He returned to the field in Week 9, then went on injured reserve from Weeks 15-17 to heal the ailment before returning for the postseason.
The three-time Pro Bowl receiver finished with 40 receptions for 438 yards in seven regular-season games in 2020. He didn't record his first touchdown catch until the playoffs.
In Thomas' absence, the Saints are expected to lean on second-year wideout Marquez Callaway and fourth-year receiver Tre'Quan Smith.