Detroit Lions have hands full with Saints’ WR Michael Thomas but they’ll get some help

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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For the third straight week, it appears as if the Detroit Lions will face one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury.

Thomas led the NFL in receptions the last two seasons and had a career-high 1,725 receiving yards last fall, the seventh-highest total in NFL history.

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The Saints are 0-2 without Thomas in the lineup, but are still tied for ninth in the NFL in scoring at 29.3 points per game

“You’re not only missing a receiver and someone that is real good at that — I mean, his yards after the catch is something that goes unnoticed sometimes,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Hidden yards. He’s physical. There’s a lot of elements that he brings to what we do and yet again like we said at the onset, you’ve got to be prepared for the next player up in the event of an injury.”

The Lions have had mixed results against the best receivers on their schedule so far.

DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 passes for 137 yards last week, but the Lions got their first win of the season, 26-23, over the Arizona Cardinals.

In a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Lions held Davante Adams to three catches and 36 yards, though Adams was in and out of the lineup with a hamstring injury.

And in Week 1, Allen Robinson had a team-high five catches and 74 yards receiving in the Chicago Bears’ come-from-behind win.

Rookie Jeff Okudah spent much of the last two games matched with Hopkins and Adams. And while the Lions are expected to get starting cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) back for Sunday’s game, Lions coach Matt Patricia said stopping Thomas still will be a problem.

“Obviously, a great player and a go-to guy for Drew Brees,” Patricia said. “Just the communication they have and some of the signals and the routes based on leverage, based on coverage, that they’re able to get to, really make them operate very efficiently. He has a tremendous release at the line of scrimmage. He runs a great slant route at the No. 2 slot where he’s just going to come off and move the defender out of his way. It’s the catch-and-run plays after that that is just great. Huge target for them to convert first downs and keep the chains moving. Just a great player.”

Injury update

Trufant, who’s missed the last two weeks, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, as did tight end Hunter Bryant (hamstring) and defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand (chest). Special teams ace C.J. Moore (calf) did not practice.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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