By Adam Aniba
Since arriving in Washington, Thomas has been an important cog in Scott Turner's offense, particularly in the red zone.
In his first 22 games in Washington, Thomas has recorded 866 receiving yards and 9 TD's, before having his '21 season cut short, after a questionable low hit injuring his knee vs the Raiders (12/5/21). The hit led to Thomas requiring surgery to repair his ACL and MCL ligaments, which usually carries a one year recovery window.
On Monday, it was announced Thomas would come off the PUP list and was seen with the other tight ends on the side filed. On the day, Thomas didn't participate in any full-team drills, but did catch a few passes from his new QB Carson Wentz during the special teams practice period.
Thomas spoke at today's post practice presser and had the following to say about playing in the season opener vs Jacksonville via ESPN's John Keim.
"I'd love to be out there Week 1, but I know myself and if I'm not ready to go or don't feel like a full version of myself we can buy another week or two weeks."
Prior to coming off the PUP list, Thomas was required to participate in multiple tests with overall agility/jumping and landing progress being measured. Thomas received encouraging news that his numbers were even better, compared to this time last year pre-injury.
Fans should temper their expectations for Thomas making an instant impact, considering coaches will be extra cautious before inserting him into any live action. Unless Thomas has a setback, playing Week 1 isn't out of the question though. Washington's tight end room has been dealing with injuries all training camp with Sammis Reyes being placed on IR. The other tight ends behind John Bates should be ready for Week 1 at the latest though.
Washington's new signal caller has been at his best when utilizing the tight ends. At full strength, the Commanders have three TE's in Thomas, Bates and Cole Turner that can all be effective in the red zone. Thomas is their best tight end and it's not close, so having him back would be a boost for their passing game.
Thomas' presence in the run game can't be understated either. A solid run game will be imperative to get Turner's offense in a rhythm, particularly when facing some of the tougher NFL defenses.
Thomas will sit out the final preseason matchup vs Baltimore and will continue to work his way back to football conditioning, while adjusting to contact. As Washington fans, we've seen players rushed back from injury prematurely. Rivera's approach with Thomas, could frustrate fans early on, but taking their time with Thomas is the best course of action.
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