NFL training camp injury news: Michael Thomas returns to the field, David Bakhtiari underwent offseason surgery

Pro Football Network has boots on the ground at the Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Ravens’ training camps today, and we’re also tracking news from around the rest of the NFL. Let’s go around the league and sort out the latest injury news, starting with Michael Thomas’ 2022 debut in New Orleans.

Michael Thomas returns for the Saints

Thomas hasn’t played a snap since Week 14 of the 2020 campaign, but he’s finally back on the field after being activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. A lingering ankle injury — and subsequent surgeries and setbacks — have cost Thomas valuable years of his career and led to some turmoil with the Saints.

But let’s not forget that the Ohio State product got off to arguably the hottest start of any wide receiver in the NFL. Thomas posted more receptions and yards through his first four seasons than any other WR in league history, and he led the NFL in catches in each of his last two full campaigns.

Thomas is still penciled in as the Saints’ No. 1 wideout, and new faces Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry will join him in the starting lineup. Will Thomas still be as effective now that New Orleans is without Sean Payton and Drew Brees, both of whom were still with the franchise last time Thomas played a game?

Packers reveal David Bakhtiari had another surgery

Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari has missed almost as much time as Thomas. The veteran offensive lineman suffered a torn ACL in Dec. 2020 and has barely seen the field since. We knew he’d already undergone two surgeries to repair the injury, with the latest coming during the 2021 offseason. But Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters today that Bakhtiari had a third procedure done on his knee this offseason.

Head coach Matt LaFleur suggested Bakhtiari’s third surgery occurred before the club’s April offseason program. Gutekunst, meanwhile, refused to put a timetable on Bakhtiari’s potential return. Fellow tackle Elgton Jenkins, who tore his ACL in Week 11 of the 2021 season, is also on the PUP list, so the Packers could be without their two best offensive linemen.

Elsewhere on offense, Green Bay placed WR Sammy Watkins on the non-football injury (NFI) list and fellow pass catcher Christian Watson on the PUP. Per Gutekunst, Watson should return to the field shortly, but Watson — the club’s 2022 second-round pick — will miss time with an undisclosed injury that the Packers noticed during OTAs. Still, the Packers GM said he’s not interested in adding another veteran receiver to the roster.

Cowboys WR Michael Gallup placed on PUP list

The Cowboys announced that they’ve placed wide receiver Michael Gallup on the PUP list as he recovers from the ACL injury he suffered in Week 17. Reports on Gallup have largely been positive, and he hasn’t suffered any known setbacks.

He may miss early game action, but it’s unclear if Dallas will keep him on the PUP into the season. Gallup would be required to miss at least the first four games of the year if they do. If the Cowboys think he’ll only be sidelined for a game or two, they could choose to place him on the active roster and play shorthanded.

Dallas also put WR Dontario Drummond, LB Aaron Hansford, and CB Quandre Mosely on the PUP and placed LB Damone Clark on the NFI list.

Bears send Roquan Smith to PUP

The Bears have found a way to deal with Roquan Smith’s “hold-in.” Chicago is placing the linebacker on the PUP list — even though he’s not actually injured. He’ll be able to attend meetings but won’t practice as he seeks a new contract.

Smith practiced throughout the offseason before deciding not to participate in training camp. He’s heading into the final year of his rookie deal, and he’ll be paid $9.375 million on his fifth-year option. The two-time second-team All-Pro is likely searching for at least $18 million annually on his next pact, and he may cross the $19 million threshold that only Fred Warner and Shaquille (formerly Darius) Leonard have reached.

Panthers lose Jaycee Horn to PUP, Rashaan Melvin to retirement

Panthers corner Jaycee Horn appeared in just three games before a broken foot ended his rookie campaign, and he’s now starting training camp on the PUP list. Luckily, Horn is expected back soon, and his status on the PUP is viewed as precautionary. The team announced Horn felt soreness in his foot following a conditioning test, and they want to take it easy on the 2021 No. 8 overall pick.

Veteran corner Rashaan Melvin helped fill in for Horn a season ago, but he won’t be back in 2022. The 32-year-old has decided to retire from the NFL after spending eight seasons in the league. A former undrafted free agent, Melvin spent time with nine organizations, appeared in 74 career games, and made 42 starts.

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